ISAF Defence Ministers discuss 2014 mission, election preparations
NATO Defence Ministers and their counterparts from ISAF partner nations met with Afghan Defence Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi on Wednesday (4 June 2014) to review progress in the ISAF mission and preparations for the second round of Afghan presidential elections. “The Afghan security forces did an outstanding job in securing the first round of presidential elections in April. The Afghan people showed great courage by turning out to vote in millions. Every single vote cast was a victory for democracy, and for Afghanistan,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the meeting.
Ministers reviewed the political transition following the 5 April elections and looked ahead to the second round which will take place on 14 June. “Minister Mohammadi has assured us that the preparations for the second round of elections are well on track, and that the Afghans are determined to build on their achievements” Mr Fogh Rasmussen said. He went on to say that it is vital that the second round is carried out transparently and in line with international standards.
Ministers also assessed the current security situation and progress in the transition of security responsibility to the Afghan security forces. Mr Fogh Rasmussen made clear that NATO has delivered on the pledges made at the NATO summits in Lisbon (2010) and Chicago (2012). “As we promised, we have built up a capable Afghan force of 350,000 soldiers and police, who are ready to take full responsibility for their country’s security. As we promised, we are also planning a follow-on mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces beyond the end of this year.”
NATO is planning a follow-on mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces beyond the end of 2014. The Secretary General welcomed U.S. President Obama’s recent announcement of the significant contribution the United States intends to make to this mission. “This is consistent with our planning. Together with the contributions offered by other Allies and partners, it shows NATO’s continued commitment to Afghanistan,” he said. However, for NATO to establish the post 2014 follow-on training mission, the required security arrangements have to be signed and the necessary legal framework has to be put in place. “That is why I welcome the fact that both candidates in the presidential election have shown their support to signing the necessary agreements as a priority. It is in all our interest to build on the gains we have made”, Mr Fogh Rasmussen said.
NATO is committed to helping sustain the Afghan forces and is currently putting in place mechanisms to fund them after 2014. NATO is also committed to its enduring partnership with Afghanistan which will involve both political consultation and practical cooperation.
Ambassador Jan Kubis, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, and a representative of the European External Action Service also attended the meeting.