No rush for exit: Rasmussen
WASHINGTON (PAN): ISAF countries and their partners stayed committed to Afghanistan and there was “no rush” for an exit strategy from the country, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Sunday.
Speaking to journalists in Chicago, Rasmussen said: “There would be no rush for the exit from Afghanistan” and they would stay committed to their operation and see it through successfully. “Our goal, strategy and timetable remain unchanged.”
Leaders of more than 60 countries have converged on the city for the NATO Summit, which would chalk out the road map out of the war in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari are among the key leaders attending the conference.
Rasmussen said the clear message from this summit, being hosted by US President Barack Obama, would be that NATO stayed committed to their operation in Afghanistan; they would continue to transfer lead responsibilities to the Afghans according to the plan laid out in Lisbon in 2010.
“This process has already started.Today, around half of the Afghan population lives where Afghans have lead responsibilities … This process would be completed by the end of 2014 and that would also be the massage from this summit that we would continue with transition to the process already laid out.”
On Monday, Rasmussen added, the summit would shape the next stage of its engagement in Afghanistan. “We would continue to support them in the long term,” he promised, saying NATO leaders and ISAF partners would meet Karzai and other regional actors.
“This would be a powerful demonstration of the commitment of the whole international community to the future of Afghanistan,” he remarked. “I feel confident that we will maintain solidarity within the coalition.
“I would appreciate if ISAF and NATO partners continue to contribute to the NATO-led training mission that would start in 2015,” he said in response to a question.
Not surprised by the new French president’s commitment to his election pledge of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, he noted François Hollande’s statement that he remained committed to the country in a different way.
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