NATO Foreign Ministers announced Wednesday that the alliance would maintain its presence in Afghanistan once the current Resolute Support mission ends.
At the end of the first day of a two-day meeting in Antalya, Turkey, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance and the Afghan leaders agreed on a framework for the future joint military-civilian presence in Afghanistan - which will be aimed at training, advising and assisting Afghan forces.
"Today, we took a major decision which shows that we stay committed to Afghanistan. We agreed that we will maintain a presence in Afghanistan, even after the end of our current mission, Resolute Support," Stoltenberg told reporters after the meeting which was attended by Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, representatives of UNAMA, European Union and external affairs ministers of Korea and Japan.
"Our future presence will be led by civilians. It will have a light footprint. But it will have a military component," he added.
According to Stoltenberg, the NATO offices have been tasked to work out on a new plan to be started after the current mission.
"Our aim will be to advise and instruct the Afghan security institutions, to help them become self-sufficient, and to build on what we have achieved so far, as part of the broader international effort."
Meanwhile, Rabbani welcomed the NATO decision of maintaining long-term presence in Afghanistan.
"I am glad to say that in today's meeting, an agreement was made on continued partnership between NATO and Afghanistan," Rabbani said.
The meeting aimed to discuss the alliance's adaptation in the face of a changed security environment.
According to Rabbani, the participants held a range of positive discussions on strengthening the alliance's partnership with Afghanistan beyond the end of the Resolute Support Mission – which began after the NATO combat mission formally ended last year in December.
Earlier in a statement Tuesday, NATO pledged to maintain its presence in the country in order to further train, advise and assist the security forces.
"Afghan soldiers and police have been doing a great job since they took responsibility for security at start of this year. But they will continue to need support and we will continue to stand with them," Stoltenberg said Tuesday.