Exit plan okayed, ISAF vows long-term support
CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (PAN): NATO on Monday reiterated its plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2014 but reaffirmed its long-term commitment -- primarily focusing on training, advising and assistance missions -- assuring Afghans of its steadfast support in the post-transition period.
Endorsing President Barack Obama's exit strategy from Afghanistan that calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of international military forces by the end of 2014, the participants promised continued support for the war-torn country.
Backed by President Karzai, the exit plan seeks transferring security responsibilities to Afghan forces in 2013 before foreign troops' pullot the following year. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said a new and different NATO mission would advise, train and assist the Afghan force.
“In line with the strategy which we agreed at the Lisbon Summit, ISAF’s mission will be concluded by the end of 2014. But thereafter Afghanistan will not stand alone. We reaffirm that our close partnership will continue beyond the end of the transition period,” leaders of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) members said.
In a joint declaration at the end of the summit in Chicago, they said: “We agree to work towards establishing a new NATO-led mission. We will ensure that the new mission has a sound legal basis, such as a United Nations Security Council Resolution,” the declaration said.
The meeting was attended by leaders of more than 60 countries, including United States President Barack Obama. Afghani President Hamid Karzai also led a high-level delegation to the crucial summit.
Noting that sustaining a sufficient and capable Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) is the responsibility of the Afghan government, supported by international partners, the declaration said the global community would play their part in developing appropriate, coherent and effective funding mechanisms and expenditure arrangements for all strands of ANSF.
“As the economy and revenues of the government grow, Afghanistan’s yearly share will increase progressively from at least $500 million in 2015, with the aim that it can assume, no later than 2024, full financial responsibility for its own security forces. In light of this, during the transformation decade, we expect international donors will reduce their financial contributions commensurate with the assumption by the Afghan government of increasing financial responsibility,” the declaration added.
A peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan would positively contribute to economic and social development in the wider region, and deliver progress in the fight against narcotics trafficking, illegal migration, terrorism and crime. In this context, regional cooperation and support for stability in the country was vital, it noted.
The ISAF leaders also stressed the need for good governance, effective fight against corruption, protection of human rights, particular of women and children, and called for free and fair elections.
Noting that there is more work to be done, the NATO-led ISAF countries resolved to work together to preserve the substantial progress they have made during the past decade.
“The nations contributing to ISAF will therefore continue to support Afghanistan on its path towards self-reliance in security, improved governance, and economic and social development,” it said.
“This will prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorists that threaten Afghanistan, the region, and the world. A secure and stable Afghanistan will make an important contribution to its region, in which security, stability and development are interlinked,” the declaration concluded.
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