BRUSSELS - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday said after an end to the combat mission in 2014, military commanders on the ground would decide on providing air support to Afghan forces in case of need.
He told a group of Afghan reporters ahead of the two-day NATO/ISAF ministerial meeting in Brussels: “This will not be a combat mission. We will be able to protect our trainers, so that they can operate in a secure environment.”
If Afghan security forces needed help in grave situations, NATO military commanders would make a decision on the provision of military help. “But, again, as a point of departure our post-2014 mission will not be a combat mission.”
Within the NATO Russia Council framework, a Trust Fund had been set up to finance training activities for helicopter maintenance crews, he said. The fund is also used to finance the provision and maintenance helicopter spare parts to equip Afghan forces by the end of 2014.
In response to a query, the secretary-general recalled the Chicago summit had agree to seek a sound legal basis, such as a United Nations Security Council Resolution, for NATO’s new mission in Afghanistan.
Although it remained a preferred option, he said, explaining that from an international legal point of view, it would be sufficient just to have an invitation from the Afghan government. “It is too early to speak about the details of the Resolute Support mission. The mission will take place at the institutional level and at the corps level...”
With regard to insurgent safe havens in Pakistan, the diplomat said: “UN mandate is clearly limited to Afghanistan. This is also the reason why a positive engagement with Pakistan is of utmost importance. We have urged and continue to urge the Pakistanis to step up their efforts within the tribal region.”
About the impact of provincial reconstruction teams’ closure on certain development projects that could not be completed by the Afghan government, Rasmussen said he had taken up the issue several times with President Karzai.
“There is a strong wish by the Afghan authorities to see PRT activities transferred to Afghan national responsibilities. So, we are following up on a strong Afghan interest expressed by the government...”
Refusing to comment on drone strikes in Waziristan, he expected the new Pakistani government to continue playing its part in the fight against terror. He saw no indications of the new administration changing its policy on the anti-terror war. (Pajhwok)