Afghan mission unfinished business for NATO, says Lute

Douglas-Lute-_3351471bKABUL: NATO foreign ministers would discuss common interests with regard to the security situation in Afghanistan at a meeting in Brussels on Friday, a US diplomat said on Thursday.

Ahead of the meeting, Ambassador Douglas Lute told a media briefing: “For NATO, I think it’s safe to describe Afghanistan as unfinished business.  And so for the Warsaw Summit we have two objectives.”

One aim, he said, was to secure international funding support for the Afghan army and police all the way out to 2020.  He recalled a similar decision that secured funding till 2017 for the Afghan at the Chicago Summit in 2012.

“But next year is 2017. So at Warsaw, we wish to extend that pledge for international funding all the way out to 2020. And by and large, that’s the funding that keeps the Afghan army and police in the field and operating and salaries paid and so forth,” he said.

He described Friday’s session — to be attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts from 27 other member countries — as an important milestone, hoping to finish that work and to have the full funding assembled by the Warsaw summit.

The second is to extend the current NATO-led coalition’s new mission in Afghanistan beyond this year.  He expected expect the leaders would take that decision at Warsaw, but the configuration of that mission was work in progress.

Both on the funding and troop commitment, he said they would communicate to the Afghans that they were not alone in this fight and that NATO would be with them through the current year. “And in the case of funding, all the way out to 2020.”

Lute believed the financial pledge would keep Afghan security forces in the field and it was to assume that the United States would announce at Warsaw it would remain the single largest funding source for the Afghan forces.

In terms of troops, the diplomat continued, the US had announced its decision.  It will start next year with 5,500 UStroops in Afghanistan, and then…the next president will decide what to do after that.” -(Pajhwok)


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