KABUL, Afghanistan, April 12 (UPI) -- The goals and timetable for the international mission in Afghanistan remain fundamentally unchanged, the NATO secretary-general said in Kabul.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to discuss NATO's commitment to Afghanistan beyond the 2014 deadline for the departure of international forces.
Rasmussen said a transition in which Afghan forces would be in charge of security operations would be completed by the end of 2014.
"That goal remains unchanged. Our timetable remains unchanged," he said in a statement. "And our commitment to our partnership with the Afghan people beyond 2014 remains strong."
Last week, NATO forces handed over security responsibility over Lashkar Gah, the largest city in Helmand province, ending a transition process that began in July.
Rasmussen said Afghan forces were in charge of 40 percent of all conventional operations in the country. At next month's NATO summit in Chicago, he said, allies would discuss how NATO would provide training assistance and support once transition is completed.
"Let me be clear: NATO is here as Afghanistan's partner for the long term," he said. "That is our message to the people of Afghanistan, to the enemies of Afghanistan and to Afghanistan's neighbors."
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