By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2013 – NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen opened the NATO Foreign Ministerial in Brussels today welcoming the Loya Jirga’s endorsement of the U.S.-Afghan security accord and urging the Afghan government give it a “timely signature.”
“The recent Loya Jirga showed very clearly the progress Afghanistan is making,” he said. “The Afghan forces did a remarkable job in ensuring that a gathering of such scale took place in a peaceful manner. And the participants delivered a clear message for continued partnership and cooperation.”
Speaking to reporters at the two-day ministerial, Rasmussen called the bilateral agreement important to the legal framework for the NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces post-2014.
“We will be working closely with the Afghan government in the weeks ahead on this issue,” he said.
Afghan security forces “are already quite capable. But we do believe that they need our continued assistance, and that’s why we are prepared to deploy the so-called Resolute Support mission to Afghanistan,” Rasmussen said.
“My concern is that if we are not able to deploy a training mission to Afghanistan, it may have a negative impact on the security situation … [and] on the provision of financial aid to Afghanistan,” he said. It could also jeopardize pledges to finance the Afghan security forces and provide development assistance to the country, he noted.
Everything, he emphasized, hinges on a signed security agreement.
“It is clear that if there is no signature on the legal agreement, there can be no deployment and the planned assistance will be put at risk,” Rasmussen said. “It is my firm hope and intention, therefore, to continue our efforts to support Afghanistan once these agreements are concluded.”
Attendees at the foreign ministers’ sessions in Brussels are meeting with International Security Assistance Force partners and the Afghan foreign and interior ministers to discuss current operations and get updated on preparations for next year’s elections, he reported.
They kicked off meetings today with discussing about NATO’s summit next year in the United Kingdom. The summit is expected to focus on ensuring the alliance remains “fit, outward-looking and ready to respond to the challenges the future will bring,” Rasmussen said.
“There, we will chart the future of this alliance,” he said.