From the event


11 Feb. 2009

Weekly press briefing

by NATO Spokesman, James Appathurai

JAMES APPATHURAI (Spokesman, NATO): Friends, thank you for coming. I will be very brief in my opening remarks and then very happy to take whatever questions you might have.

First to join COMISAF from this Headquarters in condemning very strongly the attacks that took place in Kabul today. They are, as he said, and as we believe as well, a very clear indication of what the Taleban intends for Afghanistan. They have slaughtered a number of civilians. They have attacked the government institutions. They have made it very clear that their goal is not the betterment of the Afghan people.

I think it is worth remembering these events when we have discussions of what the Taleban is doing in the country. I think it is useful to remember these events when we have discussions of civilian casualties. So that's all we have to say on that subject.

The Tajik President, the President of Tajikistan, Mr. Rahmon, President Rahmon, R-A-H-M-O-N, met this morning with the Secretary General. They discussed a range of areas of cooperation based on the Individual Partnership Action Plan where NATO might provide further support to Tajikistan. The Tajik President mentioned, for example, support with regards to border control, and this was very much in the context of Afghanistan, which was I think the principal topic. The Tajik President has made very clear, including in public, that Tajikistan considers security in Afghanistan to be of direct relevance to them, and they wish to support NATO and international efforts to help bring peace to Afghanistan, and that includes through border control. It also includes very much efforts to support counternarcotics operations.

On the border NATO has offered, including with the Russian Federation, to provide training to counternarcotics officials in Central Asian states, and that has begun. But the Tajik President certainly repeated Tajikistan's intention to cooperate with us as much as possible in bringing security to Afghanistan. They also inaugurated an exhibition of paintings which if you are in the NATO Headquarters you are very welcome to come and see.

In terms of calendar, because really I'm going to be brief today; I only have two other things to mention and then I'm happy to take your questions, the Secretary General leaves tomorrow morning for Paris, and he will do two things.

First he has been invited by the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees in a joint session of the Assemblée Nationale to speak to them, and I'll use the French, vous exprimer... he's been invited to s'exprimer sur l'évolution du rôle et des missions de l'OTAN; to speak on the evolution, the roles and the missions of NATO. Of course, these Commissions are also in the process of discussing and speaking with French authorities on the future of France in NATO. And of course the Secretary General will speak to this question as well.

He will then at 12:30, from 12:30 till one o'clock have a bilateral meeting with Monsieur Sarkozy, President Sarkozy. I don't believe there will be a joint "point de presse". I don't think that's in the tradition of the Élysée, but I think he will, if you have colleagues in Paris, he will come out and speak to journalists who are there and if he has time answer their questions.

Finally let me give you a little preview of Krakow, and then I'm happy to take your questions.

The meeting will begin on Thursday. But let me also give you, before the meeting starts, what the Secretary General will do... he will visit the Wawel Castle. I don't think there'll be a press opportunity, but he will visit the Wawel Castle. He will then open a photo exhibition at the International Culture Centre; that's at 9:30 in the morning on the 19th. At ten o'clock he will speak, joined by Minister of Defence Klich, at a seminar on Atlantic security with specific reference to a strategic concept. That is at ten o'clock, as I mentioned, at the seminar at the International Culture Centre.

The meeting itself will start at 12:30 at the Sheraton Hotel. This is an informal working lunch of the NATO Defence Ministers with invitees, Croatia and Albania. NATO only, where I believe Afghanistan will be a principal topic of discussion, and in particular election support will be one of the key topics. How do we provide the forces necessary for the upcoming elections? Where will they come from? How many do we need, et cetera?

They will then move to... and please, if there's a Pole in this audience, excuse what I'm about to say, the Jagiellonian University where the meeting will expand to be a meeting of invitees with NATO Ministers, invitees and non-NATO ISAF contributing nations. So there's a meeting in ISAF format of Defence Ministers where they will discuss I think principally the political military plan which had been agreed last year. Where are we? How are we doing in terms of providing forces, providing trainers? So in other words our principal task, our main task which is security. How are we doing in supporting governance? And there are a number of programmes which the government of Afghanistan is implementing where NATO plays a supporting role, and I might add police being one of them, and counternarcotics being another clear supporting role for NATO and where we now have slightly expanded our mandate as well. And finally development, and there you have the provincial reconstruction teams and the roles that they play. So in all of these areas how are we doing? We have a plan. Are we resourcing it effectively? Is it the right plan, et cetera?

Finally the next morning from 8:30 to 11:00 you will have again an informal meeting of simply of the 26 NATO Defence Ministers where they will focus on transformation issues. And that is the modernization of our forces, helicopters, et cetera.

Then at 11:20 informal meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, followed by a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission with invitees. And the Secretary General's press conference will be at 13:30 to 14:00. And we have had a good tradition of being on time lately, so I'm guessing that that 13:30 will stand.

That's all I wanted to say. I'm happy to take your questions. Please, we'll start from the front.

Q: President Obama has already said that American military presence in Afghanistan will be increased, but he would also like that the burden sharing, there is burden sharing in NATO. Are you going to discuss this question? When and will it have incidence on other member countries?

And I have also second question. I understand that maybe it's a little bit premature, but it is 99 and 99 percent sure that tomorrow Bulgaria will advance officially the nomination of Mr. Solomon Passy as future Secretary General. Would you say something about that?

APPATHURAI: Thank you. First on the burden sharing. I understand that the United States Administration has not yet made a final decision on increasing troop levels or on the other areas which are under review in Washington.

That being said, the Secretary General and President Obama, I think, are fully in agreement, and I can quote the Secretary General from Munich, and that is: when the Americans... well, let me paraphrase because I can't remember the exact quote, but when the United States is planning a significant increase to its effort in Afghanistan, it will want more from its European allies than advice. It will want to see a fair share of the burden, including the increased burden being taken by the other allies. Let me include also Canada in this list.

That is not exclusively a military burden, and I think the Obama Administration, again, shares the same views as the Secretary General, or vice versa, that when we say comprehensive approach it doesn't mean just more forces. More forces will not be the exclusive solution to this problem. So if the other allies can also look where they can contribute in areas such as police training, where I know the meeting yesterday of the Czech presidency, I think Minister Schwarzenberg made specific reference to this police training as being an area where the EU could step up its effort even more than it has already done, and that would be very welcome.

In terms of a more resourced and more coordinated civilian and, in particular, reconstruction and development effort, in a more coordinated political engagement with Afghanistan, all of these are areas where the NATO allies and other partners as well can step up their game, even as NATO needs to step up its game, and we will do that in the coming year.

As to Secretary General candidates of course nothing has been announced, and I can't comment on that and I will be, as you might understand, very restrained indeed in commenting on any possible future Secretaries General.

Q: James, I was wondering if you had any comment at all about Russia's saying that it may be able to offer military aircraft to help supply NATO soldiers in Afghanistan?

APPATHURAI: The idea of Russia providing transport... Sorry, the question was... is this not working?

Q: (Inaudible...)

Q: (Inaudible...)

APPATHURAI: Oh, for back there. Okay. Well let me repeat the question. Minister Lavrov is quoted as saying that Russia could consider providing Russian military air transport support for NATO operations in Afghanistan.

My understanding, and let me say that again, my understanding is that the idea of Russian military transport support for NATO operations is one, and I say NATO operations in general, is one that has been discussed rather extensively in the past. We have as you know a leasing arrangement with Ukrainian and Russian transport aircraft already; though that is private companies as opposed to the government, and one which is very valuable and of which we make extensive use. But this is a slightly different thing; this would be the Russian government itself providing direct support. It has been discussed in the past. Those discussions were never completed. If the Russian Federation wishes to make that offer to NATO, I'm sure it will be looked at very carefully. It is I think a good sign of goodwill by the Russian Federation to make these kinds of offers. It is also an indication of our shared interest in contributing to a situation in which extremism, which poses as much a threat to Russia as it does to us, is controlled and where possible stopped in that region.

Q: James, since the Secretary General is in Paris and has talks, is he talking also about AWACS and where are we with the French contribution to possible deployment of AWACS to Afghanistan?

APPATHURAI: French contribution?

Q: Yes. In terms of money.

APPATHURAI:. I am not aware of where we are. I'll be very frank with you.

Q: (Inaudible...)

APPATHURAI: I don't want to make reference to specific countries. What I can say is that we have quite significantly moved forward the discussion on AWACS for Afghanistan, for example, with regard to basing. And we have not yet come to conclusions, but we have moved the discussion forward far enough that discussions on money can soon begin because the basing discussion is an essential element to that. I will not give specifics so there's no point in asking, but... well, you can ask, but I can't answer. But I would not say that we have not gotten anywhere. We have indeed moved the yardsticks and when there is final decisions taken on basing then the money discussion can begin, at which point, of course, each country will have to make its own views known.

Q: Do you really(?) know? Okay.

Q: Est-ce que je peux demander exceptionnellement que tu me répondes en français sur Paris?

APPATHURAI: Sur Paris, bien sûr.

Q: À propos de... Le Secrétaire général doit intervenir longtemps. Est-ce que c'est une intervention qu'il a mûrement préparée? Ou est-ce qu'il s'attend à des questions diverses? Est-ce qu'il y a un axe à son intervention? Est-ce qu'il va expliquer l'intérêt pour l'OTAN du retour de la France dans la structure militaire? Ou est-ce qu'il va expliquer l'intérêt de la France de rentrer dans l'OTAN? Enfin, si tu pouvais développer un petit peu pour qu'on ait en avance quelques-unes de ces opinions?

APPATHURAI: Je ne vais pas trop développer. Mais je vais le dire en français bien que je l'ai dit.

Le Secrétaire général a été invité par l'Assemblée de... et je cite s'exprimer sur l'évolution du rôle et des missions de l'OTAN. Ça sera la direction de son intervention. Si les commissions... parce que je pense que c'est les commissions veulent engager sur l'avenir de la France dans l'OTAN évidemment il est bien préparé pour répondre à toutes ces questions. Il sera devant ces comités de 10h30 à 11h30 à peu près. Et je ne sais pas pour combien de minutes il va parler en commençant. Mais je pense assez brièvement. C'est tout ce que je sais. Vas-y et puis... I know you have to run away... No no. Obviously.

Q: I have two questions. One on enlargement. Do you still believe that all the ratification processes for Albania and Croatia will finish on time, to have those countries as a full member before the summit? Slovenia Parliament decided but the process is not over yet. Netherlands didn't yet, so what is your expectation on that?

And second is on, in Kosovo there are protests about the creation of Kosovo security forces, former ...(MICROPHONE FEEDBACK)... members of the KPC are protesting and they even claim that NATO is not going to fulfil its duty in terms of numbers while the Serbs are protesting that... saying that this is a threat to the security. Even Peter Feith, EU Envoy today said that this is a potential to create the tensions in Kosovo. I mean this... the fact that not everybody's satisfied.

APPATHURAI: Thank you. We are certainly optimistic, cautiously optimistic, let's put it that way, that all the countries that need to ratify, all the remaining countries in NATO will ratify and deposit their instruments of ratification in time for the April summit. Let me welcome the decision by the Slovenian Parliament. Despite the political complications, it was a very welcome decision on their part, one which we think reflects the Bucharest decision. I believe there are five or seven, I can't remember... five, five countries that still have to ratify. I can tell you the Secretary General is personally and directly engaging with the leadership in those countries to, let's say, keep their eye on the calendar.

Kosovo. Let me say a few things. First the KSF will, despite some misunderstandings, I think, in the press, will remain designed to meet the size that it was always designed to be, and that was 2,500 members and 800 reservists. So let there be no doubt about those figures as I have seen there was some confusion about that.

It was always clear that there was no automaticity for KPC members to enter the KSF, that there would be a vetting process, that that vetting process would meet all the appropriate standards, and those would be approved by NATO. KPC members... the KPC was stood down and stood down with distinction, and then former KPC members had the right to apply. Many of them have done. They have not all gotten in, and that was what we had said from the beginning.

They do have the opportunity to be part of a resettlement programme, or they will be covered by the law on KPC (inaudible), so there are provisions in place for KPC, former KPC members who do not make the KSF.

But our belief is that the vetting process is as it should be, and of course KFOR and the Kosovar authorities will look to make sure that any adjustments need to be made are made. But in general we are confident in the process.

There are clearly teething pains as this force is stood up, but that was to be expected. I would hope, I think NATO would hope, that the Serbs in Kosovo, the ethnic Serbs, would, instead of protesting against the KSF, apply to join the KSF, take up the positions that have been set aside for them. I think, if I may speak frankly, only eight have joined. That is not really what we had been hoping for, and make this also their Kosovo Security Force.

It has as its official languages both of the principal languages of Kosovo: Albanian and Serb. It has positions set aside for minorities, and the Kosovar Serbs I think have an opportunity to make this their KSF as well, and that, we believe, is the route they should follow.


Q: Do you see the possibility of Montenegro's MAP membership at the NATO summit? One question, and another one: I saw a story that EU is planning... not planning... it's just thinking about if sending ships against pirates to Southeast Asia, the Malacca Strait and Singapore area. Is it somehow coordinated with NATO or is it purely a EU plan?

APPATHURAI: On Montenegro's MAP membership, I'll be very brief: I simply don't know, I can't comment, have not seen any discussion of that until now. But that doesn't mean it won't happen; we have a number of ministerials between now and then. I simply cannot predict.

Any discussions within the EU on engaging in anti-piracy operations in Southeast Asia have not been coordinated with NATO. I have to say I'm totally unaware of them, but on top of that I can tell you that there is no discussion  within NATO of conducting anti-piracy operations in Southeast Asia. We are, however,  now engaged in discussions on a second anti-piracy operation off... or in the Gulf of Aden. And very deeply into that discussion as well.

You... both of you.

Q: James, clarification about the Russian offer, the airlift for NATO. I mean, did NATO already ask or request officially from Moscow any airlift or air facilities?

And then another... it's about the ambiguity around the defence, the missile defence shields in Poland, Czech Republic and Kaliningrad, et cetera. What is the impact of what has been said in Munich and then before on NATO missile initiatives? Thank you.

APPATHURAI: In terms of the Russian offer, all I have seen is a Reuters report of what Foreign Minister Lavrov has said, and with great respect to Reuters, that's not the same thing as an offer. Putting that aside, as I mentioned there have already been long discussions on this I understand in the past between NATO and Russia on the use of Russian military aircraft in support of NATO operations which never reached a conclusion, but were, as I understand, relatively developed. So this is an extension of an existing discussion rather than a Russian offer. That is the way I would characterize it. But an indication of Russia's continuing position of support for the operation in Afghanistan. I don't know anymore than that because all I've seen is just a comment.

Missile defence. There was a lot of discussion on missile defence in Munich. But Munich was simply a conference, and I would not yet make suggestions about possible changes in policy based on what we have heard out of Munich.

The bilateral discussions between Poland and the Czech Republic, which of course have a clear connection to the NATO missile defence work, including with the Russians, as far as I know and am aware, has not been changed in any way and continues.

Now what we have seen is that Russia has indicated its strong desire to talk with the United States, and with NATO I might add, about participating in, cooperating more fully in missile defence. The Bush Administration, I have to say, made a very forward-leaning offer on cooperation with the Russian Federation on missile defence. So this is not an entirely new subject, but if there is a greater trust and a greater level of cooperation between all the relevant parties on missile defence, I think that that would be a welcome... I think NATO would welcome that.

As to the exact mechanics of course we do not participate in the bilateral U.S. discussions with the various actors, but it does have relevance for what NATO is doing, not least because as you know very well from Bucharest the decision was that our planning had to take into account the U.S. systems, and I might add, that the allies concluded that U.S. missile defence plans could make a significant contribution to the security of Europe. So this is a NATO issue as well.

Q: (Inaudible...) Mr. Biden said that providing it's cost-effective, plus the technology, and they mention other factors, it means that it's possible that... or it could be delayed. What would the impact on NATO side (inaudible...)?

APPATHURAI: Well I'm not Mr. Biden's spokesman and there's a lot of ifs and possibles in there, so let's wait to see what they actually decide.

Q: On Kosovo, as we approach the one-year anniversary of the independence of Kosovo, what would you say were some of the accomplishments you made, or NATO made, over the past year? And what are some of the... I would say, preconditions that have to be met before you start talking about withdrawal from Kosovo? Thank you.

APPATHURAI: Thank you. First let me characterize it as the spokesman of an organization that has both recognizers and non-recognizers as one year since the declaration of independence of Kosovo.

I think the first success must be and it is not a NATO success, but it must be that despite the very complicated political environment there has in general been with one exception stability and security, fragile but steady in Kosovo, and that is I think a tribute first and foremost of the people of Kosovo.

Second, another success that is not ours but the transition from the UN towards EULEX, again not an easy one in the political environment, has been managed, I think, with grace and some skill to get to where we are.

From NATO's point of view we have continued to do what we always did and that is to provide a safe and secure environment, and that has happened. And standing down the KPC, standing up the KSF, again I mentioned some small teething pains, but that is in essence happening, in I'll repeat a very complicated political environment.

So I think there are achievements that we can, as an international community, but first and foremost the people of Kosovo, can look to. But there's still a lot to be done.

I could not predict when a formal discussion on changing the character of KFOR could begin. There are a number of things that are changing now which I mentioned; EULEX and UNMIK transition, et cetera. We don't want to be in the same posture and at the same force levels forever; that is quite clear. And when we get to a situation in which a draw-down or reconfiguration could take place, it will, but I couldn't predict when that will be.

I think... let me go all the way to... Chris, did you still have a question? Yeah, let's go to Chris and then...

Q: Thanks, James. On Afghanistan counternarcotics I understand the order was finalized and given some time last week. Could you give us any update on what missions have been carried out, if you can tell us anything on there, or even anything at all on that?

And the other was I don't know... I've been reading some confusing reports on that there might be a change of heart on closing the Manas base. That may not be a question for you, but if you've got any updates on whether there's a change of heart there by anyone concerned, that'd be interesting. Thanks.

APPATHURAI: Thank you. To answer the first question: yes, General Craddock has issued orders now on implementing the Budapest decision by ministers with regard to counternarcotics. I am not aware that any specific operations since last week's order had been carried out in that regard.

That being said, of course NATO has a supporting role with regard to counternarcotics. You have seen, for example, General Blanchette's comments in the last couple of days where he listed all the various activities that have taken place in the past months with dozens of drug labs destroyed and tonnes of drugs destroyed and a number of people handed over to the Afghan National Security Forces for under, to be arrested. So a lot has been done, but since the order has been given out I haven't been informed anyway that any specific operations have been carried out.

Sorry, the second question?

Q: Ah Manas.

APPATHURAI: Oh, Manas. I have no information on Manas. Sorry. Nothing new. I have seen the same press reports you have, but I don't know anything else.

Q: James, there was a opinion poll published by the BBC recently saying that public support in Afghanistan is dropping for the presence of foreign troops. And my second question related is how do you think that today's terror attacks in Kabul will affect the credibility of foreign troops in Afghanistan?

Thank you.

APPATHURAI: Thank you. The poll is an interesting one and worth reading, and like anything it can be spun in every direction. I think there are two takeaways from the poll and I'll try to be balanced with them.

One is, there is still strong support, 60 percent plus, for the government. In fact, 84 percent of the population says they prefer to be ruled by the government. That is in contrast to four percent of the population that prefers to be ruled by the Taleban. That four percent is within the rounding error of the poll and it could be zero, but certainly, even if we take the four, it shows you that basically nobody in Afghanistan wants the Taleban back. And they want their government. They want their government to work, but they want their government, and I think we should all be encouraged by that. I think it flies in the face of a lot of the conventional wisdom that you read in the press.

Second, the support for international forces is still very high, over 60 percent. That's the good side. The worrying side for us is, of course, that these figures are slipping and they're not slipping a lot, four percent, six percent. It is not a catastrophic fall from last year, but it is a steady decline.

To be honest, it would be a little bit surprising if it would be otherwise eight years into an operation like this, but the 60 percent plus figure, in fact, the 80 percent, what really matters is the 80 percent support for the government. Eighty-four percent. That's a very strong figure.

So to be honest, we are concerned about the decline, but I think we are encouraged by the strong support for the government and international forces. And also by the total rejection of the Taleban, by virtually the totality of the Afghan population.

I would hope that today's terror attacks are not seen as the Taleban hopes them to be seen, and that is as in some way detrimental to the credibility of international forces.

In 2008 the number of attacks, not kidnappings, not criminal events, but attacks, of this kind using weapons, was down 40 percent from 2007. There was a 40 percent decline. And I might add, in a year where the Afghans took control of security in Kabul, and took it in a real way. This was not some sort of Potemkin leadership. I have seen it. They lead the operations, they command the operations. They decide which operations will take place. They're intelligence driven. And the Afghan intelligence service is very effective, I can tell you, in Kabul.

But there will be moments when the Taleban break through and have a spectacular event, which grabs the headlines. And that is the aim of this, is to grab the headlines and make you ignore the six weeks, the six months beforehand where nothing significant happened.

So let us, I hope, keep this in proportion. It is a bad day by any standards for Kabul, but it is one day and the general trends in Kabul have been better and steadily better. By the way, thanks, first and foremost to the Afghans, not to us.

Q: (Inaudible),  ITAR-TASS. James, I have a couple of questions. First, of them it's about the relations with Russia. Is there, after the Munich conference and the meeting between Russian vice prime minister and Secretary General, is there any schedule, or I don't know, road map, for restoring relations with Russia?

And my second question is about the satellite launch, Iranian satellite launch. Do you discuss this in NATO? Do you consider it as a proof that there is a real missile threat from this region? Thank you.

APPATHURAI: So which launch? The Iranian launch, is that the one?

Q: Satellite (inaudible).

APPATHURAI: The satellite launch, yes, satellite launch, sorry. Satellite.

There is no formal road map, but I do expect that there will be one or more informal meetings of the NATO-Russia Council ambassadors, in the run-up to the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in early March, where I am absolutely sure there will be an extensive discussion of Russia, and NATO-Russia relations. I cannot, of course, foresee where we will go from there, but the end game we wish to see will be a successful resumption of formal relations as the sort of final step of the measured reengagement that was tasked last... in Budapest. I think it was in Budapest.

Second, on the satellite launch, NATO as an organization has, I think, no formal view on the satellite launch, but of course, a number of allies have made it clear that they consider the satellite launch to be a dangerous sign of Iran's pursuit of ballistic missile technology.

With that satellite launch Iran is demonstrating a capability that is ever-increasing and in the context of its nuclear programme, as well, it causes concern to allies.

Q: James, was the issue of  transit discussed today between the SecGen and the Tajik President?

APPATHURAI: The Tajik President made it clear that transit with Tajikistan is not an insurmountable hurdle. I think that that level of cooperation is absolutely fine. In fact, I believe it may already be agreed, so I need to check it, but I don't think we have any problems with Tajikistan.

The problem... the only problem with Tajikistan is its geography because you have to go all away across to come down, but I don't think there are any political issues, and I think we may indeed already have an agreement on land transit. I can confirm it, but I think it is the case. Carmen will soon be sending me an SMS I'm quite sure.

Q: Talking about land transit, Lavrov also mentioned that Russia would be willing to allow military supplies, not only non-lethal supplies as in the past. Any comment?

APPATHURAI: Certainly that would be welcome. A number of allies, I believe, a number of allies, I believe already have bilateral agreements that allow for military goods, lethal military goods to transit through the country. If we move to a stage where more NATO supplies can transit that would be very welcome.

I think you were next, and there was somebody... you? No? Go ahead.

Q: On Afghanistan the U.S. is conducting a review, Ambassador Holbrooke, the new CIA gentleman, Riedel, is it? That they want to organize for the summit in April so would you expect some political elements to move perhaps the March 5 meeting and so on, but the Defence Ministers are going to be talking about it. Do you then feel for the moment that the defence elements are quite concrete, or are you expecting movement in what the U.S. might want to do?

APPATHURAI: I don't know whether the U.S. will be ready by the time of Krakow, which is next week, to announce any significant changes to their approach. Frankly, I doubt it. So I wouldn't expect any dramatic changes out of Krakow.

By the time of the Foreign Ministers meeting maybe Secretary Clinton will have some thoughts. Of course, both Vice President Biden and Richard Holbrooke discuss with the Secretary General their thinking, but there is a process under way, as you know, as you quite rightly say, now headed up by Mr. Riedel, which has not yet reached a conclusion, and as we all know in the United States getting that many actors finally on to one song sheet is a complicated process.

So I would not expect, I'll be very frank, dramatic changes in the U.S. positions to be announced in Krakow.


Q: James, on Afghanistan as well, I think President Karzai gave an interview to a German newspaper saying that he expected by 2015 that international forces could leave already, and given that by that date certain key allies, like Canada and Holland have already said that they would not keep their contingents further on, is this a calendar that could be accepted by ISAF?

And I'm sorry, my second question, if I can? Relating to when you just condemned the attack in Kabul, I had the impression that you were implying against negotiating with the Taleban, which would have just been one of the proposals made by Pakistani officials on the trip to (inaudible).

Like one last question, if I may, protocol. When do you think the briefing for Krakow will be? Thank you.

APPATHURAI: Okay. That one I can answer. We have no calendar in NATO. We want to play the role that we are playing as long as necessary, and not one day later and the day that Afghan National Security Forces can provide for the security of their country we will no longer need to. It is costing NATO countries and our partner countries enormously in terms of money, in terms of the lives of our young men and women, and we do it because we have to, not because we want to. And the key to getting to where President Karzai, where the Afghan people and where we want to be has to be training and equipping the Afghan National Security Forces, and that is why we will be pushing very hard, including in Krakow, on training teams.

But it's not just, sorry to repeat this again, but it's not just a military story. It will only be a sustainable peace if there is a functioning economy, if there are government institutions. In other words, it is not altruism; it is not for reasons of altruism that we are building, or helping to build government institutions and helping to build the economy. Yes, there is altruism, but that's not the driver. The driver is that you cannot have sustainable security without that kind of development. And so that is why we do what we do.

The development will continue beyond the military operation, I have no doubt. Look at what all of our countries are doing around the world. But the success of the security operation depends on the development and vice versa.

Am I against... well, my views on negotiating with the Taleban are irrelevant, but President Karzai has always said, and I think this is a generally shared view, that the Taleban is a catch-all phrase for a number of different groups. There are a few who engage in mass murder, as we have seen today, with whom there can be no discussion. They will not be reconciled and they'll have to be dealt with in other ways.

There will be those who are willing to abide by the constitution of the country and they can be talked to. It is not for NATO to do it, but there will have to be a political solution with those groups that are willing to abide by the constitution, and there will have to be other solutions for those who will not.

The briefing will be on Monday. Monday, and I don't know the exact time, but I think it'll be... we'll send out an SMS, but it'll be on Monday by me.  I’ll come to you and that will be the last one.

Q: Yes, financial assistance to the Afghanistan ISAF operations, where we are about the idea of the... I think the fund that had been discussed in the previous meetings, and this will be also on the agenda of the Krakow?

APPATHURAI: The short answer is we have a trust fund for building the Afghan National Army. It has several million euros in it, which is not enough, and yes, it will be on the subject... it will be very much on the agenda at Krakow.

This is not an area, yet, of success for NATO.

Q: (Inaudible...). 

APPATHURAI: Yes, there are quite high targets. I'm not sure I'm allowed to give the figures, so I won't, but let's say it a heck of a lot more than we have, and we have to do better, allies have to do better.

Q: In fact, my question was really the same, but I take the opportunity to ask complementary question on the same topic. Who is paying for the Afghan army right now? And who is supposed to pay in the future? Is NATO considering that he should pay for those troops because they are growing all the time, but the country is not able to pay for that, except maybe if they use traffics of all sorts to finance it.

And so could you tell us what is the objective... I mean, the target is to have a trust fund that pay for billions of dollars of this spending, or is it just a charity thing that people... that if you could give more, but in fact, the U.S. would continue to pay heavily?

APPATHURAI: I think right now the U.S. is paying heavily, that's quite clear. The trust fund is open to any country. The NATO trust fund is open to any country. No, Carmen's also (inaudible).

The trust fund is open for any country. There are two issues here. There is setting it up and expanding it, in terms of equipment, in terms of uniforms, and there is also the long-term running costs, which is a separate issue. The trust fund, as we have it now, is not designed to fund the long-term running costs. It is designed to help fund the expansion, equipment, training, uniforms, et cetera, of the expansion of ANA trust fund. So there is a separate discussion to be had, which is being had, on the long-term running costs.

Colleagues, that's all I have time for, except to tell you, let me look at my phone, Carmen has sent me a message. Your pre-ministerial briefing at 15:00 Monday, the 16th, in Résidence Palace.

Q: (Inaudible...).


Thank you.