KABUL - Although the NATO mission in Afghanistan is challenging, but the country's enemies will not be allowed to succeed in undermining the progress made in building security and Afghan forces, the alliance chief said on Tuesday.
"We remain committed to completing our ISAF mission at the end of 2014, as planned. And we remain committed to launching a new mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces after 2014," Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
At the start of the defense ministers' meetings in Brussels, he said the mission's goal, strategy and timeline remained unchanged. He hoped the ministers would endorse a broad framework for the new training mission in Afghanistan.
A statement from the alliance quoted Rasmussen as saying: "We will also take stock of the progress we've made on capabilities. We are maintaining the momentum on defense projects and building on what we agreed at our Chicago summit…"
He called for greater cooperation on defense planning, training and exercises at a time when member countries' defense budgets were under pressure. The period of economic austerity, a challenge to defence budgets, also opened an opportunity for strengthened cooperation, he added.
In Kabul, a spokesman for the NATO senior civilian representative said Afghanistan's Minister of Defence Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi was also attending the two-day meeting.
Dominic Medley said NATO's strategy was to hand over full responsibility for security to Afghanistan by the end of 2014. In that time, the capacity of Afghan forces will continue to be built up.
"NATO is confident that the Afghan Security Forces will continue to grow in strength, skills and experience in the years ahead, so that they continue to perform their patriotic duty of protecting Afghanistan and its people," he said. (Pajhwok)