US won’t meddle in polls, hopes Karzai
Since his country did not interfere in US elections, Americans were expected to deal with Afghanistan in a similar manner, the president told a joint news conference with the visiting NATO secretary-general.
However, he hastened to explain that his administration was not opposed to foreign observers’ role in the electoral process and promised they would be allowed to supervise the democratic exercise for transparency sake.
In response to a query, the president said: “We are concerned over insider attacks, but hope they will be prevented with the cooperation of NATO-led troops.”
Regarding his talks with Rasmussen, he said they conferred on equipping and strengthening Afghan forces and improving the security system for the successful implementation of transition.
Local forces were poised to shoulder the security responsibility for the entire country as soon as possible, he added. The process is scheduled to be completed by 2014.
“If we look at the transition process, it’s a good message for Afghanistan and the international community. We are ready to take the responsibility even earlier, if needed.”
Accompanied by the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s political decision-making body, and seven of the 22 ISAF partners, Anders Fogh Rasmussen described his visit a clear demonstration of their commitment to Afghanistan.
“All 50 nations within the ISAF coalition remain committed to Afghanistan, now and for the long-term. And this is a great opportunity to see with our own eyes the progress we are making,” he said.
Rasmussen claimed the NATO strategy in Afghanistan was working and its timeline for an end to the combat mission by the end of 2014 remained unchanged. The new task will focus on training, advising and assisting Afghan forces.
He acknowledged there still challenges, including insider attacks that threatened NATO and Afghan forces. The two sides were dealing together with the common threat, he added.
“And let me make it clear. The enemies of Afghanistan may change their tactics, but they will not succeed. They will not undermine the trust we have built over the years and across this country,” the NATO chief remarked.
Afghan forces would be in the lead for security across the country in 2014, a year ahead of presidential ballot, he continued.
“I can assure you, you have the strong and long-term support of the whole international community. So you can look to the future with confidence, and build the future that you want and deserve,” Rasmussen concluded.
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