NATO prepares new chapter in ties with Afghanistan
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO Secretary General has said that the alliance will be writing a new chapter in its relationship with Afghanistan, as its combat mission draws to a close.
“We have planned a new mission to train, advise, and assist the Afghan forces from next year and it will be launched once we have the legal arrangements in place,” said Rasmussen in a pre-summit press conference in Brussels. He said the NATO summit in Wales this week would take place in a changed world, and that the summit would address these new and diverse challenges. “I expect it to be a crucial summit in NATO’s history,” he added.
Referring to new developments around the globe, he said that this was a time of multiple crises on several fronts. Rasmussen pointed out, “To the east, Russia is intervening overtly in Ukraine. To the south, we see growing instability, with fragile states, the rise of extremism, and sectarian strife.”
Rasmussen also cautioned that crises such as these erupt with little warning and move at great speed, but affect security in different ways. “So at the Summit, we will ensure that the Alliance remains ready, able and willing to defend all Allies against any attack. We will agree to a Readiness Action Plan to make NATO more agile than ever,” he assured.
He said that NATO had an unparalleled network of partners around the world. Rasmussen declared, “In Afghanistan we built the largest coalition in recent history, with one quarter of the world’s nations. And through our operations, we have become better at working together than ever before.”
“We have denied safe haven to international terrorists. We have built up capable Afghan forces of 350,000 troops and police. So our nations are safer, and Afghanistan is stronger,” he reiterated.
Rasmussen also said it was vital to see a conclusion to the electoral process in Afghanistan – a conclusion which was accepted by both candidates and the Afghan people.
Replying to a question about security in Afghanistan, he said: “There is a clear difference between Iraq and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, we have helped build a very capable security force of 350,000 soldiers and police, and we have seen them take the lead of our security operations during the last year – and they have done so in a very professional manner.” He said the alliance was confident that the Afghan forces would be able to take full responsibility for the security by the end of this year as planned.