Updated: 06-Oct-2003 September 2003

23-26 Sept 2003


Secretary General visits Central Asia and Afghanistan

11/09/03 - NATO
Lord Robertson visits Afghanistan and to meet President Karzai
NATO in Afghanistan
High resolution photos of the visit of Lord Robertson
to the International Stabilisation Force (ISAF)
in Kabul, Afghanistan

NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson said the Alliance is examining options for a possible expansion of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Afghanistan during a visit to Kabul, which followed visits to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, 23 to 26 September.

During the one-day visit to the Afghan capital on Friday, Lord Robertson met with the commanders and troops of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). He also met for talks with senior officials from the Afghan Transitional Authority and the United Nations mission in the country.

The talks focused on the security situation in Afghanistan and the possible expansion of the 5,500-strong ISAF force, which is currently providing security in and around Kabul. On 11 August 2003, NATO took over command and coordination of the force, the Alliance’s first mission outside Europe in its history.

Lord Robertson said that the Alliance is currently examining several options for the future of the mission. The Secretary General met Hamid Karzai, the President of the Afghan Transitional Authority in Scotland on Sunday, 28 September.

Regional security implications

Afghanistan was also one of the topics discussed during the Secretary General’s farewell visits to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Lord Robertson met with the countries’ leaders for talks on cooperation with NATO and the security situation in the region.

"If there is failure in Afghanistan, then the region will be thrown into turmoil and the shockwaves will be felt at the edge of the Euro-Atlantic region," Lord Robertson said at a press conference in Uzbekistan. "We are committed to success, there is no other option."

The Secretary General said NATO would continue to strengthen its cooperation with Central Asia, particularly in the fight against terrorism. NATO plans to open a Partnership for Peace Training Centre in Uzbekistan and will assist Tajikistan with the modernization its armed forces.