Delays in BSA make our task more difficult: Rasmussen
BRUSSELS (Pajhwok): NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday said the alliance was planning to support Afghanistan with a new mission to train, advise and assist its security forces after 2014.
“But we need to be very clear. Finalizing the planning for our new mission depends upon completing the NATO Status of Forces Agreement,” the NATO chief told defence ministers on the second and last day of their meeting here.
He said they remained focused on completing the ISAF mission and ensuring that Afghan forces took full responsibility for security at the end of the year.
He praised the Afghan forces for working hard throughout the security transition process, saying NATO continued to support their efforts.
“We are also, as we have said from the start, the NATO Status of Forces Agreement cannot be concluded until the Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States is signed.”
Rasmussen said the delays in signing the BSA had made their task more difficult and there was a strong need to consider the impact on their planning.
About the April election, Rasmussen said the next months would be a decisive moment in Afghanistan’s democratic development. “And we all look forward to elections that are transparent, inclusive, and credible and secured by capable Afghan forces.”
A day earlier at the opening of the two-day meeting, Rasmussen warned that all alliance troops serving in Afghanistan would follow the US in withdrawing at the end of the year if Kabul refuses to sign the agreement with Washington.
"If there is no agreement, there will be no NATO troops in Afghanistan after 2014," he said. "This is not our preferred option, but it might be the unfortunate outcome if the security agreement is not signed."
The warning from NATO was closely coordinated with the White House and came a day after President Barack Obama told his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai in a telephone call that the US was planning for a complete withdrawal over his refusal to sign the troop agreement.
On Thursday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other NATO ministers agreed on the need to plan for pssible outcomes.
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