Ghani hails NATO pledge of continued support
Addressing a joint press conference with the new NATO chief in Kabul, the president said that Afghan forces had effectively taken the security lead from foreign troops in five phases over the last three years.
“Today, I want to assure the secretary-general and allies of a successful end to the combat mission on December 31 this year,” he said, explaining Afghan forces alone would be responsible for fighting against militants beyond 2014.
However, Ghani added an end to the ISAF combat operations did not mean a halt to bilateral cooperation. Instead, he continued, it represented the opening of a new chapter: Operation Resolute Support that would begin from January 1.
He went on to welcome the secretary-general’s assurance of continued support to Afghanistan and said Afghan forces had acquired the ability and training to defend their homeland within limited resources.
For his part, Jens Stoltenberg said ISAF had achieved its goal and NATO was ready to open a new chapter in its relationship with Afghanistan. “We have made our nations safer by pursuing the international terrorists who used Afghanistan as a safe haven to launch horrific attacks.
“And we have made Afghanistan stronger by helping to build capable national security forces. Next year, we will open a new chapter. The future of Afghanistan will be in Afghan hands. But our support will continue.”
The secretary general paid tribute to the dedication, courage and sacrifice of Afghan and international forces from the 50 ISAF contributing nations. He insisted they had created the conditions for a better future for Afghan men, women and children.
From January 1, NATO will launch a new non-combat mission to pursue the development of Afghan security forces’ capacity. Other aspects of NATO’s continued commitment will include contribution to the financial sustainment of the Afghan security forces.
He commended President Ghani and CEO Officer Abdullah for their leadership and commitment as part of the newly elected national unity government.“These are key for a stable, sovereign, democratic and united Afghanistan…”
Stoltenberg said he looked forward to the timely completion of the parliamentary process for the NATO-Afghanistan Status of Forces Agreement, and to further progress on good governance, the rule of law and human rights, including the rights of women.
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