Afghanistan welcomes NATO announcement
ANTALYA, Turkey (Pajhwok): Afghanistan on Wednesday welcomed NATO’s announcement to maintain its presence in a new civilian-led mission after the current Resolute Support mission ends around the end of next year.
The alliance announced the decision to maintain its presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016 during a meeting of alliance foreign ministers in this southern city of Antalya, Turkey.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference that they agreed to maintain a presence in Afghanistan even after the end of the current training mission.
He said the new mission would be civilian-led and would include both soldiers and civilians to give advices to Afghan security bodies. He said the new mission was expected to be smaller than the current 12,000-strong training operation.
Foreign ministers from 42 countries are attending the two-day conference that began here on Wednesday. The first day was specified for Afghanistan, in which Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani was present.
In his brief chat with journalists after the meeting, Rabbani welcomed the alliance’s decision to continue its presence in Afghanistan and said NATO had renewed its pledge of a long-term cooperation with Afghanistan.
He said the meeting evaluated the alliance’s training mission in Afghanistan and agreed to maintain a presence beyond 2016.
He said the heads of states of NATO countries would meet in Poland next year and would discuss their financial support for Afghanistan.
Rabbani thanked NATO and the allied nations for assisting Afghanistan for the past more than a decade and rendering huge sacrifices.
He said the NATO’s current training mission had strengthened the abilities of Afghan security forces to maintain security across Afghanistan on their own and deal with challenges and threats.
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