Opening remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
at the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Non-NATO ISAF Contributing Nations at the level of Defence Ministers
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to this meeting of ISAF Defence Ministers.
Earlier this month, we saw the start of Afghanistan’s presidential election campaign. The next months will be a decisive moment in Afghanistan’s democratic development. And we all look forward to elections that are transparent, inclusive, and credible. And secured by capable Afghan forces.
We remain focused on completing the ISAF mission and ensuring that Afghan forces take full responsibility for security at the end of the year. They have worked hard throughout the transition and we continue to support their efforts.
We are also planning to support Afghanistan after ISAF concludes with a new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces, after 2014.
But we need to be very clear. Finalizing the planning for our new mission depends upon completing the NATO Status of Forces Agreement. As we have said from the start, the NATO Status of Forces Agreement cannot be concluded until the Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States is signed. The delays in signing this agreement have made our task more difficult. And there is a strong need to consider the impact on our planning.
And with that, I would like to conclude the public part of our session, and I thank the representatives of the media for their attendance.