23
Sat, Mar

NATO Pledges Funding To Afghan Security Forces Until 2020

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday announced the alliance will fund the Afghan National Security Forces to the tune of $4 billion USD annually until 2020.

Speaking at the Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels, Stoltenberg said their current commitment was until 2017 but the alliance has extended this through to 2020.

"We will also launch work to ensure we can finance the Afghan security forces from 2018 to 2020. Because as you know we made a pledge back at our summit in Chicago several years ago to finance Afghan National Security Forces but that pledge ends in 2017 so we have to make a new decision to continue to finance the Afghan National Security Forces also after 2017. And we will start to address that at our Foreign Ministerial meeting and then hopefully make the final decision at our summit in July next year," he said.

Stoltenberg said NATO wants to keep 12,000 troops up to the end of 2016.

"I welcome that several Allies and partners have announced willingness to continue with military support through 2016. And we will make final decisions, but we are aiming to keep approximately 12,000 troops, also through 2016," he said.

"And almost half of them will be non-US troops, the rest will be US troops."

"We will maintain, sustain our force levels in Afghanistan, and also we will have a presence not only in Kabul, but a regional presence."

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to NATO Douglas E. Lute said Afghanistan has a special importance for NATO countries.

"I think that for NATO, Afghanistan remains unfinished business. And despite these competing challenges closer to home we have to follow through on those commitments. It's going to require a long-term effort, but the good news is today we have a much more willing and a much more capable Afghan partner than we had in the past. That's session number one," Lute said.

Stoltenberg also pledged to help increase the capacity of the Afghan Air Force.

Meanwhile the ministry of interior's spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said NATO's assistance to the Afghan Air Force is critical in eliminating insurgents.

"One of the main elements of our victory against terrorism will be through increased capacity of Afghan Air Forces."

Simin Barikzai, an MP, welcomed the move and said: "We welcome their assistance. The Afghan Air Forces have to be equipped and the international community has to fulfill its commitments."