“Zero option” can be unfortunate outcome
BRUSSELS (PAN): NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday stressed the so-called “zero option” was not their planning basis because it could be the unfortunate outcome of decisions or non-decisions in Afghanistan.
“Let me reiterate that we are prepared to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014 with a mission to train, assist, advise the Afghan Security Forces,” Rasmussen said during questions and answers session following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Foreign Ministers session in the Belgium capital.
He stressed they needed first of all a signature on the BSA between the US and Afghanistan and
next they needed a signature on a status of forces agreement that would provide the framework for a NATO-led presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
“I would be reluctant to fix an exact date what is the exact deadline but it is a fact that we need time to plan properly that deployment after 2014 and in the case that there is no legal framework from the 1st of January 2015, we also need time to plan to withdraw personnel and equipment. I mean this is just to state the obvious.”
“There can’t be a surprise and I think that message has been delivered in very clear terms to the Afghan authorities.”
To a question what is the reason behind President Karzai’s position? And can you tell us concretely what ministers decided today in terms of trying to encourage him to sign the BSA, the secretary general said Afghanistan would be discussed tomorrow and that discussion would take place in the presence of two Afghan ministers.
“So that will be the venue for delivering messages from NATO and ISAF ministers to the Afghan government. And I am not going to guess about President Karzai’s motives.”
He said they hoped they would be able to deploy a train advise assist mission to Afghanistan after 2014 and they felt strongly committed to the future of Afghanistan and the planned deployment of a training mission was actually decided in collaboration with the Afghan government.
“We made that decision at the Chicago Summit in May 2012, President Karzai was there, we agreed to establish that training mission beyond 2014 so this is still our intention and we are continuing planning not to waste time, so if we get an invitation from Afghanistan, we are also prepared to deploy. But NATO is not an occupation force.”
Rasmussen said NATO intended to help Afghanistan and getting an invitation from Kabul was a precondition. “And an invitation should be accompanied by a proper legal framework. And that’s all. Of course at the end of the day it’s an Afghan decision.”
He said they did not impose anything from their side. “It’s an offer from our side to actually help the Afghan security forces continuing their capability development so we make sure that they will also be able to take full responsibility for security in the future.”
“So at this stage it’s a hypothetical situation that we won’t be there after 2014; I still hope we will.”
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