Rasmussen: ‘NATO should develop a long-term cooperation agreement with the Afghan government’

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen addresses the press after a defense ministers meeting, June 11, 2010.

From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the International Herald Tribune:  On Tuesday, an international conference on Afghanistan in Kabul will bring together more than 70 countries, international and regional organizations and financial institutions to support a plan for development, governance and stability.

After the tragedy of 9/11, indifference was no longer an option. Engagement was our only choice. Leaving Afghanistan to its own devices would have spelled more instability there, and more terrorist attacks worldwide. …

Maybe the insurgents think they can wait us out, but we will stay for as long as it takes to finish our job. Our training of Afghan soldiers and police is ahead of schedule, and by next year there will be a 300,000-strong Afghan security force — and it can’t be waited out.

By sending 40,000 additional international troops, we have demonstrated our commitment to protecting the Afghan people by holding areas we have liberated from the insurgents. …

Starting the transition does not mean that the struggle for Afghanistan’s future as a stable country in a volatile region will be over. Afghanistan will need the continued support of the international community, including NATO. It is important that we send a clear message of long-term commitment. The Afghan population needs to know that we will continue to stand by them as they chart their own course into the future.

To underline this commitment, I believe that NATO should develop a long-term cooperation agreement with the Afghan government. …

Our objective is clear: to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a safe haven for terrorism.

We are building Afghans’ ability to resist terrorism and extremism on their own. We are changing the political conditions in the key strategic areas of Afghanistan; we are protecting the population; we are strengthening the capability of the elected government; and we are training the Afghan Army, to enable Afghanistan to look after its own security.

If we and our Afghan partners stick to our strategy and give it time to work, it will. 

Anders Fogh Rasmussen is the secretary general of NATO.  (photo: Getty)

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