NATO’s early pullout won’t affect Afghanistan’s internal security: Karzai
Kabul: President Hamid Karzai while addressing a joint press conference with the visiting Secretary General of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday said, “Afghanistan is ready to take responsibility for its own security even if NATO forces leave the country earlier than planned.”
Earlier, Anders Fogh Rasmussen had acknowledged that the final transition phase, which involves handing over lead responsibility for provinces and districts to Afghan authorities, would start from "mid-2013."
Nonetheless, the overall NATO plan is still pegged on a 2014 pullout date, Fogh Rasmussen added.
"Afghanistan is ready to expedite the process if necessary," Karzai said. "In case we do it before time we will be ready and happy too," he added.
The US-led NATO force's 11-year war in Afghanistan is increasingly unpopular in member countries and there have been calls in several Western capitals for an early end to the campaign.
Rasmussen said that while combat troops would be withdrawn as scheduled by the end of 2014, NATO had agreed to offer a new mission after that to provide Afghan forces with training, advice and assistance.
"I'm confident that the Afghan security forces will be able to take full responsibility for security by the end of 2014," he said.