NATO Secretary General welcomes results of London Conference
On 28 January, the NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, attended the London Conference on Afghanistan, which was co-hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The conference brought together Foreign Ministers from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Partners, Afghanistan’s neighbours and key regional players, as well representatives from NATO, the UN, the EU and other international organisations engaged in Afghanistan.
Participants, civilians and military, reaffirmed their commitment to respond to the needs of the Afghan people, which include security, good governance and development. They welcomed the Afghan Government's commitment to taking an ever-greater responsibility to achieve these goals.
Addressing security, the NATO Secretary General reaffirmed that the Alliance’s ultimate goal is to hand over lead responsibility for security to the Afghan Security Forces. “NATO and our ISAF partners have just agreed on a framework for transition to eventual full Afghan security primacy,” he said. “We will hand over security responsibility, gradually, in areas of the country where conditions are right.”
But the Secretary General also said that transition was not a code word for exit. “The Afghan people should have no fear that we will leave too early. We will not. But we want transition to take place as quickly as possible.”
Further strengthening of the Afghan Security Forces, including through the NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan (NTM-A), is a vital component for successful transition. Mr. Fogh Rasmussen welcomed the announcement by several countries to contribute even more to the NTM-A.
He said: “It is of utmost importance that now 39 countries have pledged additional 39 000 troops to our mission in Afghanistan. It’s a great success. In addition to that, we have decided to build up the capacity of the Afghan Security Forces, soldiers and police, to a level of 300 000.”
ISAF Partners also agreed that Afghanistan needs a political solution and pledged to support the Government of Afghanistan as it implements its Peace and Reintegration Programme.
“I strongly believe in the reintegration strategy,” said the NATO Secretary General. “We know that many Taliban would like to be reintegrated in the Afghan society. Our challenge is to provide them with better life opportunities, a better livelihood. We have to invest in economic and social development. And this is what the international community has committed itself to finance.”
Finally, the London conference reinforced the need to improve the co-ordination of civilian efforts in Afghanistan, a task that NATO’s newly-appointed Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Mark Sedwill, will carry out in cooperation with the UN mission in Afghanistan and the Afghan Government.