The National Security Council (NSC) on Sunday decided to send Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi to attend next week’s crucial NATO summit in the UK because of the impasse over the presidential election.
The two-day summit in Wales on Sept 4 and 5 will decide on future support to Afghanistan and a follow-up mission to train and advice Afghan security forces as NATO’s longest combat mission ends this year.
The two presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, are locked in a battle to succeed outgoing President Hamid Karzai, who has declined to attend the NATO gathering.
The government had earlier hoped the next president would represent Afghanistan in the NATO summit, but the UN top diplomat in Kabul told the president that 10 more days were needed to complete the vote audit process.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said the NSC in its meeting had decided to send Mohammadi to represent Afghanistan at the summit.
Earlier, he said, NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen had invited President Hamid Karzai to attend the summit but the president thanked him and said an official on behalf of Afghanistan would attend the meeting.
If the IEC announced the final results from the June 14 election one day prior to the NATO summit, then the president-elect would attend the session, Fiazi said.
He said the president-elect would be given an authorisation letter by the current president to attend the summit if they had no time for the inauguration.
The summit is expected to confirm NATO's continued funding for the Afghan army and police struggling to hold back the Taliban with declining assistance from US-led forces.
NATO members have repeatedly stressed that a new president should attend the summit to prove that the country is becoming a functioning state after receiving billions of dollars in military and civilian aid.