NATO summit on Afghan pullout in 2014
WASHINGTON (PAN): Satisfied with the progress being made by Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), US President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Friday agreed the milestone of ANSF transitioning into the security lead was within sight.
“We are now looking, over the next several weeks, to a new milestone, one that was set in Chicago, where we are transitioning to Afghan lead for combat operations in Afghanistan. NATO and ISAF members will be shipping into a train, assist and advise mode,” Obama said.
At a joint press availability with Rasmussen at the White House following a meeting at the Oval Office, the US president said: “We've seen great progress of the Afghan national security forces; we want to continue that progress.”
Obama added they had discussed the steps that needed to be taken post 2014. They had an opportunity to discuss not only the planning for the next year and a half but also what kinds of steps could be taken after 2014 to continue to ensure that Afghan forces controlled their own borders and that that Afghanistan was not be used as a base for terrorism in the future.
NATO countries would hold a summit in 2014 to discuss troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, Obama announced, explaining Rasmussen would select the host country for the meeting.
“Our goal is in sight,” Rasmussen concurred, saying: “Soon we will reach an important milestone, and the Afghans will take the lead for security across the country. Our troops will move into a support role.”
By the end of 2014, he said, NATO's combat mission would be completed and combat troops would return home. Afghan security forces will take full responsibility for security, but the alliance would still be there to train, advise and assist them.
“To that end, we are now preparing a training mission to be established from 2015. It will be a very different mission -- a noncombat mission with a significantly lower number of troops and trainers,” he said, adding that NATO was moving toward its goal of an Afghanistan that could stand on its own feet.
The Afghans would not stand alone, as its international partners were prepared for an enduring partnership with them, he remarked. As the alliance drew down its operations, it would enhance the modernisation of defense to ensure effective protection of people against new and emerging security threats and challenges, he vowed.
“That's why we are building a NATO missile defense, strengthening cyber security and we will step up joint military exercises, training and education, to maintain and further develop our ability to work and operate,” Rasmussen continued.
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