Future aid at risk if BSA not signed: Rasmussen
KABUL (Pajhwok): NATO has renewed its stance on the status-of-forces agreement with Afghanistan, saying talks on the subject cannot be finalised as long as the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) was not inked between Kabul and Washington.
“We have actually seen substantial progress in the negotiations on a NATO status-of-forces agreement. However, it's also clear that we can't finalise those negotiations until we have seen a signature on the BSA between the United States and Afghanistan,” the NATO secretary-general said.
Launching the annual report for 2013 at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday, Anders Fogh Rasmussen hoped the alliance would get the necessary legal framework in place to deploy a train-advise-assist mission after 2014.
In a transcript from the NATO spokesperson, he welcomed new signals from the Iranian president and the interim agreement on Iran's nuclear programme, hoping the new direction would lead to a breakthrough on other regional and international issues.
“It remains to be seen how that might have an impact on Afghanistan. But obviously, it is of vital importance that all Afghanistan’s neighbours contribute to security and stability in Afghanistan and in the region, including Iran,” he noted.
He shared the US concerns regarding the planned release of dangerous prisoners from the Bagram prison. He expected Afghanistan to live up to international obligations, including respect for the rule of law and due legal process.
Rasmussen acknowledged they were faced with challenges in terms of a legal framework for a NATO presence in Afghanistan. The Afghan leadership should not underestimate the negative impact its stance might have on troop-contributing countries, he observed.
“I also have to add that a lot is at stake in Afghanistan because if the legal framework is not put in place in due time, we will end up with what has been called a zero option, which is actually not an option, but an unfortunate outcome; but an inevitable outcome if there's no legal framework.”
If the alliance did not have a troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014, it would be extremely difficult to generate financial support for sustaining Afghan security forces, he warned. “Simply put, I don't know how the Afghans will be able to pay salaries to soldiers and police if they don't get any support from the international community. That's what it is about.”
The international community had pledged substantial development assistance to Afghanistan, but no international presence after 2014 might put that aid in jeopardy, he continued.
“It would a very unfortunate outcome; but actually that is a risk we're running because of the uncertainty related to the bilateral security agreement and the NATO status-of-forces agreement. Now, I hope that I have made my position clear.”
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