NATO to plan for all options, including no troops
BRUSSELS (Pajhwok): NATO defence ministers and counterparts from ISAF partner nations on Thursday discussed with Afghan defence minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi the progress in Afghanistan mission and post-2014 planning.
“We are focused on completing ISAF mission, but we also need certainty and predictability to launch our new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces after 2014,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the meeting.
He said the Afghan forces were creating the conditions to secure the April elections as their primary responsibility.
The ISAF mission has so far provided airlift support for transportation of election material to regional hubs and district polling locations.
NATO defence ministers on the second and last day of their meeting discussed the implications and risks resulting from delays in finalising required legal agreements before the allies could establish a follow-on mission.
The Resolute Support Mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces after 2014 required a legal framework, they stressed.
They noted the signature of the Bilateral Security Agreement between Washington and Kabul was a prerequisite for concluding a Status of Forces Agreement between NATO and Afghanistan, which is currently being negotiated.
Rasmussen said if the BSA was not signed, they could not conclude the SOFA agreement and without a necessary legal framework, there simply could not be a deployment after this year. “These are the hard facts,” he said.
"Today we agreed the need to plan for all possible outcomes including the possibility that we may not be able to deploy to Afghanistan after 2014 due to the persistent delays we have seen," Rasmussen told a news conference.
“Let me be clear, that is not the outcome we want. It is not the outcome that we think is in the interest of the Afghan people. However, this is what is at stake.”
The ministers were briefed by NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Maurits Jochems and by the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force General Joseph F. Dunford.
Ambassador Jan Kubiš, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and the deuty director of the European external action service also attended the meeting.
The two-day conference involving defence ministers from the alliance 28 nations and 22 non NATO partners discussed a range of topics including defence capacity-building, cyber defence and maritime security as well as the Connected Forces Initiative.
Representatives from Afghan media outlets, including Pajhwok Afghan News, have been in Brussels to cover the important NATO meeting.
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