Afghanistan holds presidential and provincial council elections next year. Afghan President Hamid Karzai backed election laws in a July decree and members of an independent election commission were appointed earlier this month.
Next year will mark the first time power is transferred from one elected government to another in Afghanistan's history.
Rasmussen said at a ministerial conference Wednesday in Brussels next year's contest is an important benchmark for Kabul.
"We expect those elections to be transparent, inclusive and credible," he said in a statement.
Previous elections were seen as skewed in Karzai's favor. He's ineligible to compete next year because of term limits.
The Independent Election Commission in Afghanistan said Wednesday there were 26 applicants, including 1 female, registered for presidential elections. More than 3,000 applications, including 323 women, were registered for provincial council elections.
The IEC said the names of the candidates remain confidential for the time being.