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NATO Stresses Fair Polls, War on Graft

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BRUSSELS – The NATO secretary-general on Wednesday renewed his call for the Karzai administration to focus on better governance and combat corruption to ensure continued international assistance to the war-torn country. “Securing human rights and fair elections will pave the way for continued international support for Afghanistan,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen told journalists on the sidelines of NATO defence ministers’ meeting here.

Afghanistan would reach an important milestone in a few weeks when its forces would be taking lead responsibility for security across the country, he said, adding ISAF soldiers would complete their shift to a support role. However, he hastened to explain foreign troops would remain combat-ready until the end of next year, when the ISAF mission would be completed and Afghans would be fully in charge of security operations.

“Together with our partners, we have been planning a new and different mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces after 2014. It will be smaller in scope and size than our current ISAF mission. During Wednesday’s session, he hoped, the defence ministers would endorse the concept of operations before they initiated more detailed work on the operations plan.

“We can be proud of what we have already accomplished in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s security transition is well advanced, and progress is clear to see. But there are still challenges ahead, and much work to do,” he said. In order to sustain the hard-won gains, the diplomat believed, further economic and political progress would be vital to the Afghanistan’s future. (PAN)

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