NATO strategy and timeline in Afghanistan unchanged, Secretary General says in Kabul
NATO will stick to its goal, strategy and timeline to hand over full security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday (18 October) during a visit to Afghanistan.
“Our visit today is a clear demonstration of our commitment. All fifty nations that are part of our coalition remain committed to Afghanistan, now and for the long term. And this is a great opportunity to see with our own eyes the progress we are making", the Secretary General said at a joint press conference with President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.
He stressed: "Let me repeat in Kabul what I said in Brussels, so that there can be no mistake: Our strategy is working and the timeline remains unchanged".
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said: "We are all committed to seeing our mission through to its successful conclusion with a full transition of security responsibilities to the Afghan security forces by the end of 2014” .
The Secretary General, the North Atlantic Council and representatives from partner nations are currently visiting Afghanistan. As well as holding talks with the president, they are due to meet other members of the Afghan government and Parliament, representatives of the international community, and units of the Afghan National Security Forces.
Afghanistan’s forces have already begun taking responsibility for their country’s security, and the Secretary General paid tribute to them.
“They have already achieved much. They are in the lead for the security of three quarters of the population. And where they are in charge, violence has gone down. Your forces are in the lead for 80 percent of all operations, and for 85 percent of the training. That is progress that we can all be proud of", he noted.
The goal shared by NATO and the Afghan government is to see the Afghan forces fully responsible for security by the end of 2014. Once that transition is complete, NATO will offer a new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces. On 10 October, the defence ministers of NATO member countries and potential operational partners endorsed the broad outline of that new mission.
“This will not be a combat mission. It will focus on training, advice and assistance. And we are actively planning for that mission”, the Secretary General underlined.
Looking at the challenges ahead and, in particular, the threat of insider attacks, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen stressed: “The enemies of Afghanistan may change their tactics, but they will not succeed”. He expressed his full confidence in the ability of ISAF and Afghan security forces to curb that threat together.
Addressing his remarks to the Afghan people, the Secretary General underlined the enduring nature of the international commitment to Afghanistan.
“You have the strong and long-term support of the whole international community. So I hope that you will look to the future with confidence, and build the future that you want and deserve.”