NATO Foreign Ministers and their counterparts from ISAF partner nations met with the Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Ershad Ahmadi on Wednesday (25 June 2014). They reviewed progress in the ISAF mission, took stock of the ongoing election process and finalised operational plans for the launch of a new NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces after 2014. “In six months’ time, our ISAF combat mission will be completed. Afghan troops and police will be fully responsible for security across the country,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the meeting.
Ministers reviewed the ongoing electoral process. They praised the professionalism displayed by the Afghan security forces in securing the elections and the commitment shown by the Afghan people to take part in building a new future for Afghanistan. “The people of Afghanistan have made their choice clear. They want democracy. We salute their choice and the determination they have shown in both rounds of presidential elections,” the Secretary General said. “The electoral process must run its course in a timely manner. Any allegations of irregularities should be addressed through the proper channels. And both candidates should play a constructive and responsible role.”
The foreign ministers took an important step forward that confirms NATO Allies and Partners’ continued commitment to Afghanistan after 2014. “Our goal is to launch a new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces from the start of next year. Today, we endorsed the detailed operational plan for that new mission, called Resolute Support. But it is the Afghans who must take the next step. The necessary security agreements must be signed soon. Otherwise, we will not be able to keep any troops in Afghanistan from next year,” Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said. “Let me be very clear. This is not what we want. That is not what both presidential candidates have said they want. But unless we have the agreements in place, it will be the only option available,” he underlined.
Ministers reconfirmed their commitment to provide funding to sustain the Afghan security forces, while making clear that the Afghan authorities must also live up to their commitment to tackle corruption and to contribute an increasing amount to the funding of their own forces. Furthermore, NATO remains committed to its enduring partnership with Afghanistan which will involve both political consultation and practical cooperation.
“So we still have challenges. But we have shown our determination to continue playing our part in Afghanistan’s stability for the future. And Afghanistan’s leaders know what they have to do,” the Secretary General said.
A representative of the European Union’s External Action Service and Japan’s ambassador to Belgium also attended the meeting.