NATO Secretary General welcomes Afghan transition announcement

  • 22 Mar. 2011 -
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  • Press Release (2011) 034
  • Issued on 22 Mar. 2011
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  • Last updated: 22 Mar. 2011 13:02

President Karzai has just announced the first Afghan Districts and Provinces to undergo transition to Afghan lead over the coming months. I want to congratulate the President for taking this critical decision which paves the way for Afghans to take charge of their own destiny.

Left to right: President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, shaking hands with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and President Karzai of Afghanistan meeting in Lisbon, November 2010

This represents the next stage of Afghanistan’s journey, not the destination. And every step of the way will be determined by conditions on the ground.

I understand that as this transition gets underway, political leaders are facing pressure to bring their troops home for good.  No one wants our forces to be in combat a day longer than necessary. But it is vital that we maintain solidarity and continuity in order to ensure that transition is irreversible. And in particular, that we gradually transfer our troops from combat roles to training.

We need to seize this opportunity to build both the quantity and quality of Afghan forces who are increasingly bearing the responsibility for their nation’s security.

Within the ISAF mission, our approach remains “in together, out together.” We are committed not to leave any security vacuum that could breed extremism. We look forward to this new Afghan year with confidence and hope.