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NATO to stand by Afghanistan: Rasmussen

NATO to stand by Afghanistan: Rasmussen

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Mar 04, 2013 - 18:20

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The NATOinfo-icon secretary-general on Monday reaffirmed the alliance’s commitment to Afghanistaninfo-icon well beyond the withdrawal of foreign combat troops from the country.

“Let there be no doubt; our commitment is certain to the end of transition and beyond it. NATO will stand by you," Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a joint news conference with President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.

Following talks with Karzai, the former Danish premier said the NATO new mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces after 2014 was taking shape.

“Our new mission will be called Resolute Support, because our support for Afghanistan remains steadfast,” remarked the secretary-general, hours after he arrived on an unannounced visit in Kabul.

Rasmussen, who is here to take stock of the ISAFinfo-icon mission and the transition to Afghan security forces, believed the process that was set in motion two years ago was making steady progress.

He recalled the local forces were in the lead only in Kabul and adjacent areas two years ago. “Now they are taking the lead in areas where 87 percent of Afghans live.”

Within months, the secretary-general added, Afghan forces would assume lead responsibility for combat operations across the country. “This is a great responsibility, but Afghanistan’s forces have shown they can rise to the challenge.”

Next year’s presidential election would represent a new opportunity for the country in its democratic transition, he said, urging all Afghans to participate in the vote. He wanted the process to be inclusive and the result acceptable to all.

Rasmussen denounced the Pakistaninfo-icon Ulemainfo-icon Council head’s recent fatwainfo-icon legalising suicide attacks in Afghanistan. In its own benefit, he stressed, Islamabad needed to support counterterrorism efforts.

For his part, President Karzai said Allama Tahir Ashrafi’s remarks had deeply shocked him. However, he hoped the situation would change and better sense would prevail.

"Afghanistan desire a real struggle against terrorism and wants the Pakistani government to realise that both our nations are burning in the same fire," he observed.

Rasmussen, who also held talks Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Rassoul and National Security Adviser Dr. Spanta, said nothing could justify terrorist attacks.  

myn/mud

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