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NATO to lead training, assistance mission in Afghanistan after 2014

(Xinhua)

08:05, May 22, 2012

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a press conference on the second day of the NATO Summit in Chicago, May 21, 2012. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)

CHICAGO, May 21 (Xinhua) -- NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rusmussen said on Monday that the security bloc has reached an agreement on the road forward in Afghanistan, and will lead a training and assistance mission in the country after 2014, when the alliance transfers security responsibility to the Afghan side.

Rasmussen made the announcement to reporters after leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) met in the morning on future commitment to Afghanistan. According to the Chicago Summit Declaration on Afghanistan released by NATO as Rasmussen spoke, after transition of security responsibility is completed at the end of 2014, NATO will have made the shift "from a combat mission to a new training, advising and assistance mission, which will be of a different nature to the current ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission."

However, Rasmussen assured that it will "not be ISAF under a different name". "It will be a new mission with a new role for NATO."

The declaration said NATO leaders agreed to work towards establishing such a new NATO-led mission, and will ensure that the new mission has "a sound legal basis, such as a United Nations Security Council Resolution."

While NATO transitions in Afghanistan, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will be stepping up to take the lead in maintaining peace and stability in that country. The funding for the force is another major focus of discussions.

According to NATO plans, the ANSF will achieve a surge strength of 352,000 by the end of 2013 and remain at that size for two full years. With anticipated improved security, the ANSF force of 228, 500 will have an estimated annual budget of 4.1 billion. NATO said the Afghan government has pledged to provide at least 500 million a year for the ANSF beginning in 2015, and NATO and other donors have agreed to provide significant additional funding, but failed to attach a dollar figure.

"This summit has not been, and is not intended to be a pledging conference," said Rasmussen, while acknowledging some countries have already made specific pledges of financial contributions.

"I do believe we are on the right track to reaching the goal of around 4 billion U.S. dollars a year for the financing of Afghan security forces," said Rasmussen.

According to the White House, the allies are looking forward to an international conference in Tokyo in July to provide for the Afghans.

"On July 8 in Tokyo, we look forward to a meeting with Afghanistan and other international donors and hearing Afghanistan 's detailed plans for its future economic and social development, including the reforms required to increase economic opportunities, " said the White House in a statement.

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