NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who chaired the ISAF ministerial meeting on Thursday, said discussions helped to prepare for next month’s NATO summit in Chicago. The summit, which will be NATO’s biggest ever, is also expected to set out how the international community will support Afghanistan once transition is completed, by continuing to deliver the right training, assistance and funding support to the Afghan security forces.
“This is truly a world-wide effort. At our summit in Chicago, around 60 countries and international organisations will come together (…) Other countries who have an interest in Afghanistan’s stability will join us too”, said the NATO Secretary General. “And the reason is simple: Afghanistan is a concern for the whole world. We all want to see a country that is safer, stronger and more stable. That is what we are building together and we are making progress,” he said.
NATO’s 28 foreign ministers and 22 ISAF partner nations were joined in talks today by the Afghan foreign and defence ministers, the European Union High Representative, the United Nations Special Representative and the Foreign Minister of Japan.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen explained that in Chicago NATO and partners will “set out how we will make sure the transition to Afghan security responsibility succeeds by the end of 2014 – and how we will support Afghanistan once transition is completed”.
“For NATO, that will mean approving a concrete and concerted plan for managing the final stages of transition, as the main focus of our efforts shifts from combat to training, advice and assistance. And it will mean approving a plan for our engagement after the end of transition in 2014”, he said.
“For the international community, it will mean setting out how to support Afghanistan once transition is complete. That will include funding sustainable and sufficient Afghan security forces. NATO and our ISAF partners will carry our fair share of that burden. But of course, this is a commitment for the whole international community”, the Secretary General said.
This came on the heels of Wednesday’s announcements by a number of allies who pledged sums to support the Afghan Security Forces after transition is complete and the ISAF mission ends.
The NATO Secretary General said progress is being made in Afghanistan. “Afghan soldiers and police are providing security for areas where half the country’s population lives, and I expect them to step forward in more areas soon as transition takes hold across the country,” he said.
He also stated that progress in the international community’s long-term relationship with Afghanistan is being seen with a number of allies already announcing bilateral strategic agreements on Afghanistan’s future security. Others are set to follow soon.
“We all want to see a secure Afghanistan in a stable region. And our continued commitment to that goal is clear,” the Secretary General said.