NATO welcomes US exit plan from Afghanistan
KABUL (Pajhwok): NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu on Monday said the alliance welcomed US president Barack Obama’s exit strategy from Afghanistan, adding talks over the status of forces agreement (SOFA) with Kabul were in their final stages.
Obama has announced he plans to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan until 2016 only if the Afghan government signs the bilateral security agreement, a decision also hailed by the government of Afghanistan.
Lungescu was speaking at a press conference regarding NATO defence chiefs meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 3-4) with defense officials from Ukraine and Georgia.
The meeting will discuss reforms in the two countries' militaries and the security implications of Russia's actions in Ukraine.
The NATO defense ministers will meet with Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania and Ukraine's acting Defense Minister Mykhaylo Koval during the two-day summit in Brussels.
Lungescu said the meeting tomorrow with Koval will give alliance ministers the opportunity to discuss support for Kyiv and to urge "comprehensive" defense reform in Ukraine, whose Crimea territory was annexed by Russia in March.
The Ukrainian military is currently battling a pro-Russian separatist insurgency in the east of the country.
The ministers are also likely to discuss Georgia’s participation next year in the NATO Response Force.
On the second day (Wednesday), the defence ministers from the 28 NATO countries and ISAF partners and the Afghan Defence Minister, NATO’s senior civilian representative in Kabul and ISAF commanders in Afghanistan would be joined by UN representatives and the EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton.
Lungescu said Wednesday’s meeting would discuss the security situation in Afghanistan, ISAF’s near to complete mission and its new mission after this year.
The meeting would also confer on the April 5 presidential and provincial council elections, the runoff presidential election, the political transition and in this regard, the role of Afghan forces.
Lungescu said Obama’s exit plan from Afghanistan would help NATO allies make clear their new responsibilities in Afghanistan.
To a question, she said the talks over the proposed SOFA between Afghanistan and NATO had progressed enough and were in their final stages.
However, an Afghan government official told Pajhwok Afghan News the talks had ended and endorsed by the Afghanistan National Security Council a day earlier.
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