Rasmussen confident of raising $4b for Afghan security
CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (PAN): NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Sunday expressed confidence that the international community would be able to commit $4 billion a year to sustain Afghan security forces after foreign troops withdraw from the country in 2014.
“A number of allies and partners have announced concrete financial contributions for the Afghan security forces after 2014. I am optimistic about reaching the overall goal of finding around $4 billion a year to finance Afghan security forces in the future,” Rasmussen told reporters in Chicago.
At the end of the first day of the NATO Summit, Rasmussen noted the meeting was not a fund-pledging conference and one should not expect all financial commitments for Afghan forces announced here.
“Let me stress that $4 billion a year is not a responsibility of NATO and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) alone. It’s a responsibility of the whole international community, but I am sure NATO allies and ISAF partners would pay a fair share of this overall bill,” he remarked.
He strongly refuted the notion that NATO and its international partners would leave Afghanistan alone after 2014, insisting it was not going to be the case. “Once the Afghans have full responsibility by the end of 2014, our combat mission will come to an end. But we will not walk away. Once transition is completed, NATO will lead a new mission to train, advise and support Afghan security forces.”
On Monday, more than 60 world leaders will focus on the future of Afghanistan. That meeting would send a strong signal of commitment to the Afghan people, the secretary-general said.
“We have taken important steps on the road to a stable and secure Afghanistan. As we agreed with President (Hamid) Karzai in Lisbon, our shared goal is for the Afghan forces to be fully responsible for their country’s security by the end of 2014. And we are on track,” he said.
Afghan forces are already in the lead for providing security for half the population and soon that will rise to over 75 percent. “By the middle of 2013, we expect the Afghan forces to be taking the lead for security right across the country. As they step forward, our focus will shift from combat to support - but we will remain combat-ready,” Rasmussen said.
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