Mr. Fogh Rasmussen praised the United Kingdom’s leading role in NATO missions, notably Afghanistan, in separate meetings with the British Prime Minister and William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary. The UK is the second-largest contributor to ISAF, with 9,500 troops deployed there.
The Secretary General said that NATO’s Summit in Chicago on 20-21 May will focus on three main goals: Afghanistan, building security in a time of austerity, and strengthening partnerships across the world. The United Kingdom is making a major contribution in all these key areas, said the Secretary General.
On Afghanistan, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said:"We agree we're on the right track, and we stick to the roadmap for a gradual transition to Afghan security lead, which will be completed by 2014. We reaffirmed the principle in together, out together."
The Secretary General said that Afghan troops and police are in the lead for the security of half of the population and are on course to assume full security responsibility by the end of 2014. “In Chicago we will decide how we continue to support them beyond that date, to make sure we maintain the gains made with so much investment in blood and resources,” said Mr. Fogh Rasmussen. He made clear NATO Allies and partners will pay their fair share to finance sufficient and sustainable Afghan security forces after 2014.
In Chicago, he said, NATO heads of state and government will also take decisions to keep the Alliance fit for the future, making sure it is prepared for the security challenges of the 21st Century. The Summit is expected to make Smart Defence the Alliance's new approach to maintaining and developing capabilities into the next decade.