NATO leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Afghanistan. The pledge was renewed at the NATO Summit, held earlier this month in Wales, the United Kingdom. The gathering brought together leaders from 60 countries, including the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Afghan Defence Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, representing Afghanistan at the summit, told reporters that the international community had increased by one billion dollars from $4.1 billion to $5.1 billion in annual aid to Afghanistan.
Leaders from NATO nations, joined by ISAF partner countries, reaffirmed their readiness to launch a non-combat mission in Afghanistan after 2014 to help train, advise and assist Afghan security forces, provided necessary legal arrangements are made in time.
The post-2014 Resolute Support Mission is one of the three pillars of NATO’s long-term engagement in Afghanistan, along with a contribution to the long-term sustainment of the Afghan National Army and the strengthening of long-term political and practical cooperation with Afghanistan.
“With the end of ISAF in December, we will change the nature and the scope of our involvement in Afghanistan,” the NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said. “But our commitment will endure because stability in Afghanistan also means security for us.” This three-pronged engagement is aimed to build on the gains achieved throughout the thirteen-year long ISAF mission, particularly in the development of strong, professional and capable security forces, as well as in the fields of education, health, economic development, human rights and fundamental freedoms, notably for women.
During the meeting, ISAF leaders underlined the importance of continued support by the international community, and of sustained efforts by the Afghan government, notably in continuing to increase its financial accountability and contribution, improved governance and the rule of law, promote and protect human rights for all.
In a joint declaration, NATO leader praised the role of Afghan forces in providing security to Afghans. “The Afghan forces had been in the lead for combat operations throughout the country. Although many challenges remain, they have demonstrated that they are an effective force, gaining the respect and confidence of the Afghan people and able to prevent insurgents from achieving their objectives,” the statement said.
The declaration said: “When ISAF operations end, the Afghan authorities will assume full responsibility for security. However, our commitment to Afghanistan will endure beyond ISAF along with our determination to ensure that we are never again threatened by terrorists from within Afghanistan.”
The leaders also vowed to continue to support an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and inclusive peace process, as stated at the 2011 Bonn Conference and at the Chicago Summit in 2012. “We welcome efforts by all parties that further this process.”
They stressed good neighbourly relations, as well as regional support and cooperation as essential. “This has been strengthened notably by the Istanbul Process in the Heart of Asia region.”
They said a stable Afghanistan would be able to make a positive contribution to the wider region including through delivering progress in the fight against narcotics trafficking, illegal migration, terrorism and crime.
The NATO leaders emphasised the particular importance of strengthening efforts to implement the rights of women and the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, and to fully include women in political, peace and reconciliation processes.