Doing everything to facilitate Afghan transition: Hagel
“Afghanistan is struggling through this transition of power to new government,” Hagel said before heading for Europe to attend the NATO summit.
He said the United States and ISAF NATO partners were doing everything they could to facilitate that peaceful transition.
“But in the end, it's up to the presidential candidates to come together and the people of Afghanistan to make all of this work,” he said.
“We are still on track to follow through with the President's (Obama) decisions as we transition out of a combat role and bring our forces down. That retrograde is on track. Certainly at NATO, with the next two days, this is will be very specific agenda item,” he said in response to a question.
“We all had hoped that by the NATO summit, we would have a new Afghan president inaugurated. We would have a status of forces agreement for the ISAF NATO partners. We would have a bilateral security agreement signed with us. That's not happened. So, it complicates the situation,” he said.
At the same time, he insisted the US and its NATO partners were on track to transition. “We'll see. But we can help. We can facilitate. We can support. We can do everything we're doing. But in the end, the Afghan people have to resolve this difference in those two candidates, and I know President Karzai is helping do that as well,” Hagel said.
Meanwhile, the State Department hoped that both the presidential candidates would abide by the August 8 agreement on a unity government.
“We continue to expect both candidates will abide by the August 8 joint declaration that reaffirmed their commitment to a unified Afghanistan. We believe the electoral process can be completed soon.”
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said a discussion about their shared commitment to Afghanistan would certainly be a part of what would place at NATO when the President was there.
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