NATO, U.S. defense chiefs review 2014 plans for Afghanistan

BRUSSELS, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- NATO's military committee chief said there should be "no doubts" about commitments to Afghanistan but a legal framework is needed to plan the mission.

NATO ministers gathered in Brussels to outline their agenda for 2014. This year, NATO-led forces deployed in Afghanistan are making preparations to end their combat obligations as national forces take on more security responsibilities.


Danish Gen. Knud Bartels, chairman of NATO's military committee, said Thursday the sooner plans are formalized, the sooner NATO forces can shift to a training and advisory role.

"There are no doubts about our commitment to Afghanistan post 2014, as part of a broad international community effort," he said. "So the sooner the legal framework is agreed on, the better it will be for the continuation of our planning."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he'd leave decisions on a bilateral status of forces agreement with NATO forces and the United States to whoever takes office after April elections.

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, a spokesman for the Defense Department, said U.S. forces need a bilateral agreement as soon as possible to start planning the next steps in Afghanistan.


"We've made our desires very, very clear, and we've had open, transparent discussions with President Karzai and his staff about the document itself and the need for it, and I would leave it at that," he said during a press briefing.

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