NATO firm on Afghan drawdown

Oct. 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- NATO forces operating in Afghanistan are preparing for a training mission there once combat operations end in 2014, the secretary-general said from Kabul.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen met Thursday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss military strategy in the country.

Rasmussen said the alliance is committed to handing security responsibility over to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. After 2014, the secretary-general said, NATO forces will serve in an advisory and training capacity.

"This will not be a combat mission," he stressed.

A suicide bomber killed at least seven Afghan intelligence officers Saturday in Kandahar province, officials said. No group claimed responsibility for that attack, though the number of attacks by Afghan forces on NATO troops has increased this year.

Rasmussen said he remained confident about the durability of the partnership between international and Afghan troops despite the so-called green-on-blue attacks.

"The enemies of Afghanistan may change their tactics, but they will not succeed," he said.

NATO defense officials during a ministerial meeting last week reaffirmed their commitment to completing the military transition by the end of 2014. Most Afghans live in areas where national troops are in control, the alliance says.

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