NATO summit begins in Wales
WALES (Pajhwok): A two-day NATO summit began on Thursday in Wales, the United Kingdom, amid expectations by the Afghans that the alliance would renew its long-term cooperation and assistance with Afghanistan currently paralysed by a months-long election deadlock.
Besides US President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, representatives from 60 others countries are attending the meeting.
The summit opened on Thursday at 9:30 am (local UK time), when Rasmussen arrived to brief media persons before the start of the summit.
At around 1:00pm, officials from NATO and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) held a joint meeting, which was also attended by Defence Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi.
A spokesperson for the NATO secretary general told Pajhwok Afghan News that ISAF and NATO would discuss measures for establishing the long-term cooperation with Afghanistan.
The NATO chief has previously said the alliance would open a new chapter in its relationship with Afghanistan at the summit.
The situation in Ukraine would also come under discussion at a separate meeting. Tomorrow (Friday), NATO would talk bolstering its defence capabilities and other related issues.
At least ten journalists from Afghanistan media outlets such as Shamshad, Azadi Radio, Pajhwok Afghan News and others, had arrived in Wales to cover the event.
The very first item on the agenda seems to be ending the decade-long war and nation-building exercise in Afghanistan and starting a new mission to train and advice Afghan security forces if Kabul sings a status of force agreement with the alliance.
Afghanistan has not yet singed a similar agreement with the US to allow thousands of American troops to stay on after this year, when the ISAF combat ends.
President Karzai, who has declined to attend the NATO summit, had refused to sign the security agreement with Washington, insisting his successor should conclude it. But the Afghan presidential election turned into a bitter stand-off that threatens to plunge the country back into civil war.
A US-brokered deal that would have seen presidential contenders Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani share power was on shaky ground this week.
Billed as the first peaceful transition of power in Afghanistan’s history, the election was supposed to be a crowning achievement for NATO, the event it had been fighting for since committing to expand President Karzai’s writ beyond Kabul.
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