NATO vows post-Afghan transition support
BRUSSELS (PAN): NATO member states foreign and defence ministers on Thursday concluded a two-day summit on Afghanistan security transition in Belgium, pledging long-term assistance to the war-torn country during and after the transition.
The summit, inaugurated a day earlier by the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, was attended by defence and foreign ministers of NATO and non-NATO states, including Russia, Pakistan and India.
At the conclusion, a final statement was issued that said representatives of NATO, ISAF and other countries and organizations conferred on how assist Afghan forces after the security transition.
Rasmussen later told a press conference after the talks that the summit remained fruitful in lead up to Chicago conference in May.
He said decisions made at the just concluded summit and other matters discussed would be deliberated upon in the Chicago meeting.
He called the Chicago summit a historic big event in the NATO’s history as representatives from 40 member states and other international entities would take part in it.
He said friendly countries like Japan and others contributing to Afghanistan’s reconstruction were expected to attend the next month summit.
He urged the Afghan government to take practical and effective steps at ensuring good governance, strengthening democracy, implementing laws and rooting out corruption from government departments.
He added the international community was committed to post-troop withdrawal support to Afghanistan. “Every country wants peace and stability brought to Afghanistan and every nation wants to help in this regard,” he said.
NATO media office in Kabul said defence ministers from 28 NATO and 22 ISAF countries and Afghanistan and representatives from the United Nations and other foreign ministers participated in the gathering.
Rasmussen said training will be an important part of future missions, as defence ministers wrapped up the two-day summit, welcoming improvements in the security situation in Afghanistan.
The participants also acknowledged the need for member countries to provide more military trainers to work with Afghan troops.
"We welcomed the significant improvement in the capability of the Afghan National Security Forces, and are committed to providing the trainers needed to support that steady progress," ministers said in a joint declaration.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force includes about 120,000 soldiers from 28 NATO member states - including Germany - and another 18 allies. But the training mission lacks about 20 percent of the personnel it needs - a shortfall of 450 trainers.
Rasmussen told reporters that training would likely play a growing role in the defense alliance's future missions.
"It's quite a new thing for NATO allies to engage in such training missions... We have to adapt our alliance to this new task to train and educate local forces in a country like Afghanistan, and I think we will deal with this aspect in the new strategic concept," Rasmussen said after the talks.
He said that allies were ready to help, but stymied by a lack of qualified officers who could do the training.
In the final statement, the ministers hailed "measured progress" in the nine-year war while noting that "significant challenges remain, and success is not yet assured."
During the talks, NATO called on Russia and China to help finance Afghanistan’s security forces in order to prevent instability near their own borders.
“We would welcome financial contributions from Russia, China and other countries to ensure a strong, sustainable Afghan security force beyond 2014,” Rasmussen told reporters.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.