NATO Welcomes Fourth Tranche Of Afghan Transition

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has welcomed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's announcement regarding transition in the fourth group of Afghan provinces, cities and districts, scheduled for the coming months. With this decision, the Afghan security forces will be taking the lead for security for 87% of the Afghan population and 23 of the 34 Afghan provinces.

This is a significant step towards our shared goal of seeing Afghans fully in charge of their own security by the end of 2014, Rasmussen said in a statement. He thanked the courage and resolve of the Afghan people, the Afghan forces and ISAF troops and trainers for the progress they made together. The NATO chief claimed that the Afghan army and police are steadily growing in capacity and confidence. They already lead the vast majority of operations, are responsible for most of the training, and are highly trusted by the Afghan people.

He pledged that NATO will continue to support its Afghan partner throughout the transition process. He reiterated that the alliance will remain committed to Afghanistan, with a new mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces, after its combat mission is completed at the end of 2014.

NATO's primary objective in Afghanistan is to enable the Afghan authorities to provide effective security across the country and ensure that the country can never again be a safe haven for terrorists. Since August 2003, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been conducting security operations, while also training and developing the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

Launched in 2011, the transition to Afghan full security responsibility is due to be completed at the end of 2014, when ISAF's mission will end. NATO will then lead a follow-on mission to continue to support the development of ANSF capacity. Wider cooperation between NATO and Afghanistan will also continue under the Enduring Partnership agreement, signed in 2010 at the Lisbon Summit. NATO's Senior Civilian Representative carries forward the Alliance's political-military objectives in Afghanistan, liaising with the Afghan government, civil society, representatives of the international community and neighboring countries.

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