Deck:

NATO leaders at a twoday summit in Lisbon have backed plans to begin transferring control to Afghan forces next year, with an eye to full Afghan control by 2014, while assuring Kabul that they will not abandon it.

The Islamic Post

 

U.S. President Barack

Obama, Afghan President

Hamid Karzai, and leaders of

NATO member states arrived

in Portugal to fine-tune the

alliance's exit strategy from Afghanistan,

as well as to discuss

missile defence and other ways

the military alliance can counter

21st-century threats.

"Here in Lisbon we have

launched the process by which

the Afghan people will once

again become masters in their

own house," NATO Secretary-

General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

told reporters. "Starting

early next year Afghan forces

will begin taking the lead for

security operations." "This will

begin in certain districts …”

'Global Importance'

Rasmussen had said ahead

of the meeting that "Afghanistan's

fight against terrorism is

of strategic global importance."

He vowed the alliance would

maintain its military presence

in Afghanistan after the transition

to prevent that war-torn

country from slipping back

into chaos. NATO's "long-term

partnership" with Afghanistan

should "endure beyond the end

of our combat mission," he said.

Under the "Enduring Partnership"

agreement signed in

the Portuguese capital, the alliance

will continue to provide

air support, training, advice,

and logistics to Afghanistan's

armed forces after 2014.

A clause in that document

asserts “The lessons learned

 

from NATO operations, in particular

in Afghanistan and the

Western Balkans, make it clear

that a comprehensive political,

civilian and military approach

is necessary for effective crisis

management.”

Afghan President Hamid

Karzai, addressed the summit,

which was also attended by

representatives of the non-

NATO states that participate

in the International Security

Assistance Force (ISAF) in

Afghanistan.

The Afghan president said

he was confident the security

handover would be a success

and praised the “effective, irreversible

and sustainable”

transition.

Karzai told reporters that

Lisbon provided him with an

opportunity to discuss Afghan

concerns, including the problems

of civilian casualties and

detentions by foreign forces.

He also expressed satisfaction

over international support for

ongoing efforts to reach a peace

settlement with the Taliban.

"We have also spoken

about the peace process and the

need for the world leaders to

back the peace process," Karzai

told reporters, "and I'm glad to

report to you now that on all

the agendas that were common

between us, I found voices of

concord and agreement by the

world leaders."

At the press conference

after the NATO Summit in

Portugal, US President Barack

Obama explained the consensus:

“I've made it clear that

even as American’s transition

and troop reductions will begin

in July, we will also forge a

long-term partnership with

the Afghan people. And today,

NATO has done the same.”

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