Spokesman: NATO won't abandon Afghanistan

May 7, 2012 at 11:56 AM
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BRUSSELS, May 7 (UPI) -- NATO will not abandon Afghanistan once Afghan forces assume security responsibility from coalition forces at the end of 2014, a NATO spokesman said Monday.

"NATO is clearly committed to supporting Afghanistan beyond 2014, when the gradual transition of responsibility for the security of the country from ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] troops to Afghan forces will be fully implemented," NATO civilian representative spokesman Dominic Medley said during a media briefing from Brussels.

Afghanistan is the top-line item on the agenda when NATO ministers meet in Chicago May 20-21. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to participate.

NATO forces began transitioning security duties to Afghan army and police in July.

Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, ISAF spokesman, said NATO will provide training, advice and assistance, as well as funding for Afghan's security force after the transition is complete, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

"[This] is a commitment for the whole international community," Jacobson said. "This past week, we witnessed the signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan. This is a message to the Taliban and others that Afghanistan's allies will not abandon this country after 2014.

Under President Obama's withdrawal plan, 10,000 U.S. troops were pulled out of Afghanistan last year and 23,000 more will return home by September 2012. Obama traveled unannounced to Kabul last week where he signed the strategic pact with Karzai.

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