Saturday, November 20, 2010
NATO Says It Won't Abandon Afghanistan : NPR
NATO will start reducing troop levels in Afghanistan next year and hand over control of security to the Afghans in 2014 but will not abandon the country after that and let it slip back into chaos, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Saturday.
Rasmussen, President Barack Obama, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and leaders of the 28-nation alliance were meeting behind closed doors to discuss the alliance's exit strategy from Afghanistan on the second day of Nato's annual summit. They were also deciding how NATO will give advice, training and logistics help to Afghanistan's military over the long term.
"The direction starting today is clear, toward Afghan leadership and Afghan ownership (of the war)," Rasmussen said in his opening remarks.
NATO officials stressed that the alliance will maintain a military presence in Afghanistan long after it begins withdrawing troops.
"We will agree here today on a long-term partnership between NATO and Afghanistan to endure beyond the end of our combat mission," Fogh Rasmussen said. "If the enemies of Afghanistan have the idea that they can wait it out until we leave, they have the wrong idea. We will stay as long as it takes to finish our job."
Ivo Daalder, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, said the 2014 goal and the end of NATO's combat role in Afghanistan beyond that date "are not one and the same." But many NATO nations have insisted they will remove all their troops by 2014, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague reiterated said his country will end its combat role in Afghanistan by 2015.