by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers with non-NATO ISAF Contributing Nations
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are meeting today to discuss our ISAF mission and our long-term commitment to Afghanistan and its people.
The handover to Afghan security lead continues to make steady progress. The Afghan National Security Forces are demonstrating that they are capable, confident, and in command. They are leading some 80% of operations.
Last December, President Karzai announced that Afghan soldiers and police will take charge of security in a fourth group of Afghan provinces, cities and districts. With this decision, Afghan forces will be in the lead for protecting 87% of the population.
In a matter of months, Afghan forces will assume lead security responsibility for all of the population, and they will lead all operations. By the end of 2014, they will be fully in charge of their own security across the country.
But our partnership with Afghanistan will continue well beyond the end of transition, and the end of our ISAF mission. We are preparing a new and different NATO-led mission after 2014 to train, advise, and assist Afghan security forces.
I am pleased that many partners have already offered to join us and are working with us to plan the new mission.
So, NATO and its ISAF partner nations remain resolute in their support for a sovereign, safe and secure Afghanistan.
And with that, I would to thank the media for joining us.