Washington: Leaders of America`s NATO allies declared on Tuesday that all the international troops led by the US and its coalition partners would withdraw from war-torn Afghanistan by the end of 2014, after being there for more than a decade.
Participating in a NATO-led summit in Chicago, they said the mission of the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan would end in 2014.
"In line with the strategy which we agreed at the Lisbon Summit, ISAF`s mission will be concluded by the end of 2014. But thereafter Afghanistan will not stand alone: we reaffirm that our close partnership will continue beyond the end of the transition period," leaders of the NATO-led ISAF member countries said in a joint declaration at the end of the summit.
However, leaders of the NATO-led ISAF mission countries at the end of their Chicago meeting pledged to have a long-term commitment to Afghanistan, given that they still have a long way to go in the fight against terrorism and achieving political stability and satisfactory-level security in the country, to have another NATO-led mission for Afghanistan post 2014.
The new mission would also have the approval of the UN Security Council, they declared.
The meeting was hosted by US President Barack Obama. They noted that sustaining a sufficient and capable Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) is the responsibility of the Government of Afghanistan supported by the international community.
As part of the wider international community, and building upon existing mechanisms, they will play their part in developing appropriate, coherent and effective funding mechanisms and expenditure arrangements for all strands of the ANSF, the declaration said.
"As the Afghan economy and the revenues of the Afghan government grow, Afghanistan`s yearly share will increase progressively from at least USD 500m in 2015, with the aim that it can assume, no later than 2024, full financial responsibility for its own security forces, the declaration said.
"In the light of this, during the Transformation Decade, we expect international donors will reduce their financial contributions commensurate with the assumption by the Afghan government of increasing financial responsibility."
Observing that a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan will positively contribute to economic and social development in the wider region, and deliver progress in the fight against narcotics trafficking, illegal migration, terrorism and crime, the declaration noted that regional cooperation and support for stability in Afghanistan is the key.
"The nations contributing to ISAF will therefore continue to support Afghanistan on its path towards self-reliance in security, improved governance, and economic and social development," it said.
"This will prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorists that threaten Afghanistan, the region, and the world. A secure and stable Afghanistan will make an important contribution to its region, in which security, stability and development are interlinked," the declaration said.