Press conference by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
following the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers with non-NATO ISAF Contributing Nations
We have just had a good discussion on Afghanistan with Defense Minister Mohammadi and our ISAF partners on the growing capability of the Afghan Security Forces. And we agreed further elements in our plans for a mission to train, advise and assist them after 2014.
Afghan forces took the lead for providing security nation-wide in June. And they have shown they are up to the job. They have mounted operations across the country with minimal or no ISAF support.
Currently, they are leading more than 1,000 patrols a day. They are planning and conducting complex operations in all parts of the country. And they are developing their skills in areas such as helicopter air support.
All this will put them in a strong position as they prepare to assume full responsibility for security at the end of 2014.
This transition will mark the end of our combat mission, but we will continue to stand by Afghanistan. Today, Allies and partners reconfirmed our support for the Afghan security forces. And we are moving ahead in our planning for Resolute Support: our mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces after 2014.
We have moved closer to putting that mission in place. Our military commanders have reviewed planning and identified in broad terms the key elements we require to set up the mission.
We still have work to do. This includes agreeing a legal framework with the Afghan government on the status of our forces. This is the sort of framework we need whenever and wherever we deploy forces. We remain committed to working with our Afghan partners on establishing the new mission. And our plans will be further developed and closely coordinated with the Afghan government.
We also discussed next year’s elections. Elections which will be fully led and managed by Afghans. We expect those elections to be held on time, and to be transparent, inclusive, and credible.
Finally, we reviewed the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, and its related resolutions. This is important to us all, as we made clear at the Chicago Summit last year.
Today we will publish that review. It sets out the areas where we are doing well, and the areas where we need to do more.
And with that, I am ready to take your questions.
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): We have Kuwait News Agency in the front row.
Q: Nawab Khan from the Kuwait News Agency. Mr. Secretary General, on your new mission, are you going to have cooperation with the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, such as India, Pakistan, Iran? And my second question is: In your meeting with the Russian Defence Minister today was the issue of Iran's nuclear program raised? Thank you.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (NATO Secretary General): First on Afghanistan. Obviously we have a dialogue, in particular, with Pakistan about the regional situation. We have made clear right from the outset that if we are to ensure long-term peace and stability, not only in Afghanistan, but in the region, we also need a positive engagement of Pakistan.
But I think all countries in the region can play a constructive role in ensuring such peace and stability. And let me remind you that the UN Security Council resolution that provides the basis for our presence in Afghanistan, also calls on all countries in the region to contribute to peace and stability. So it's actually an obligation for all actors to do what they can to provide such peace and stability.
Q: Iran's nuclear...
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yes, yes, sorry. No, we didn't discuss Iran at today's meeting.
OANA LUNGESCU: Turkish News Agency here.
Q: Yes, Secretary General, after your comments on the concerns of the integration of missiles that Turkey's willing to get from China yesterday, this morning the Turkish Prime Minister said that, quote, if NATO is sensitive about the integration issues, first they have to focus on the Russian missiles and systems that some of the NATO Allies already have and which are not even yet in the inventory... listed as inventory. What would your reaction to that will be? Thank you very much.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I can just repeat what I said already this morning. Firstly, that it is a national decision, which military equipment a nation wants to acquire. It is, and it remains, a national decision.
Secondly, seen from an Alliance perspective, it is, of course, of utmost importance that military equipment in one Allied nation can operate, work, communicate together with equipment in other Allied nations, because that's the essence of being an Alliance that we can actually work and operate together.
And that goes for all kinds of military equipment, and I feel confident that all Allies are very much aware of this position.
OANA LUNGESCU: Japanese media in the back.
Q: Sorry, I go back to Afghan issue. Did you discuss security agreement issue, including the Loya Jirga next month?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Yes, obviously this issue has been a very important topic. We welcome the progress we have seen in negotiations between the United States and Afghanistan on a bilateral security agreement. However, we also are aware of the fact that these deliberations have not yet been finally concluded and we are aware of the Afghan political process, which includes a Loya Jirga, and I suppose also a parliamentary procedure.
So while we welcome the progress we have seen, we are also aware of the fact that the process has not been concluded successfully yet. Having said that, I'm confident that a bilateral security agreement will be concluded, will be approved, and then followed by a NATO status of forces agreement which is a prerequisite for our deployment of troops and trainers to Afghanistan after 2014.
OANA LUNGESCU: One last question, over there, Le Soir.
Q: Philippe Regnier, Journal Le Soir. Mr. Secretary General, could you give us a sense on what the key elements identified by the military command for the next mission would be, please? Thank you.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I suppose you're thinking about the progress in the planning we have approved as of today. Yes, I can tell you, first of all, that our planning is on track. We make steady progress. Today we have made important decisions on the mission goal, the capability needed, training concepts, Command and Control arrangements, just to mention some important elements that need to be in place before we can deploy a training mission to Afghanistan.
But, of course, we can't finalize our preparations until we have finalized negotiations on the legal framework, the status of forces agreement. But still, we are making steady progress, so if we are invited to establish a training mission after 2014, and provided the sound legal basis is in place, we will be ready to deploy such a training mission from the first of January, 2015.
But as I mentioned, there are still some elements on which we need a final agreement.
OANA LUNGESCU:Many thanks, I wish you a good afternoon.