NATO chief confident Afghan forces to secure polls
BRUSSELS (PAN): NATO foreign ministers and their counterparts from ISAF partner nations on Wednesday welcomed ongoing preparations for next year’s presidential and provincial council elections in Afghanistan.
“We are confident that the Afghan forces will be capable of securing them,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, after briefings from acting Afghan Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani and Interior Minister Omar Daudzai.
“Those elections are key for Afghanistan’s future and we were encouraged to hear the Afghan government’s determination that they should be timely, transparent and inclusive.”
The elections are scheduled for April next year and Afghan security forces will be primarily responsible for ensuring they are held in a secure environment with ISAF forces playing a backup role.
At their meeting, the foreign ministers also finalised the rules governing the use of the NATO Afghan National Army (ANA) Trust Fund after 2014.
This fund will be part of the broader international effort to support the long-term sustainment of the Afghan security forces.
“These arrangements will ensure that the funding is channelled in an accountable, transparent and cost-effective way,” Rasmussen said.
Since its creation in 2007, more than 570 million Euros have been donated or pledged through NATO ANA Trust Fund.
Funds have been used to support in- and out-of-country training, including literacy and English language training for the Afghan army and police; cover transportation, installation and maintenance costs for the Afghan army and air force donated equipment; and the purchase of ANA equipment and services for engineering projects.
While the ministers reiterated their commitment to continue to support Afghan security forces after 2014, they called for a timely signature of the Bilateral Security Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan, which will pave the way for NATO to establish its own legal framework for its new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces after 2014.
“We have made it clear to the visiting Afghan ministers that we need that legal clarity before we can move ahead with planning our deployment”, the Secretary General said.
Ambassador Jan Kubiš, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Afghanistan, Baroness Cathy Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Japan also attended the meeting.
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