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NATO ready to play its part in Afghanistan: Rasmussen

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WALES: NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday said their mission in Afghanistan was not over yet and Afghanistan still needed international support and the alliance was ready to play its part.
In his opening remarks on the first day of the two day NATO summit focused on Afghanistan in Wales, the NATO chief said they were proud of what they had achieved in Afghanistan, thanks to hundreds of thousands of military and civilian personnel who served with ISAF over the years with outstanding courage and dedication.
He paid tributes to fallen soldiers in Afghanistan. “Each of you represents your brothers and sisters in arms. Those who answered the call to serve… you put your lives on the line. You fight so that others can be safe. You demonstrate how much more powerful it is to protect than to destroy. So that those who resort to terror and violence will not succeed.”
Rasmussen said NATO allies and partner nations from across the world had stood shoulder to shoulder in the most challenging combat mission (in Afghanistan). “This has been an unprecedented international effort.”
He said they had done what they pledged to do and dealt a blow against international terrorism in Afghanistan and built up capable Afghan forces of 350,000 troops and police.
“For over a year, these forces have been in the lead for security across the country and by the end of this year, Afghan security will be fully in their hands.”
The NATO official said Afghans now had a historic opportunity to develop their own country and decide their own future.
“Afghanistan has already made significant advances. In the economy and communications. education and health, human rights and fundamental freedoms, notably for women and girls.”
He said though their combat mission would soon be completed, Afghanistan still needed international support and NATO stood ready to play its part.
“We are prepared to begin a new mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and once the necessary security agreements are in place, we will launch it.”
Rasmussen said they would also continue to help fund the Afghan security forces and over the course of the coming months, they would build upon their Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan.
“Because we want to ensure that we retain the gains we have made and open a new chapter in our relationship with Afghanistan.”
“As we look to the future, we also want to continue to work with the partners that we have relied on in this challenging mission. Our forces are stronger and more closely connected than ever before.”
He said they would continue those efforts, including through partnership initiatives that would be launched here in Wales.
“We are stronger together. We have proven that in Afghanistan. And we thank our partners for their vital contributions.”

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