The change of top commander in Afghanistan will not bring a change in strategy of Nato-led forces fighting the Taliban insurgency, alliance secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday.
He was speaking following the appointment of US General David Petraeus as top Afghan war commander in place of General Stanley McChrystal, fired by President Barack Obama for disparaging remarks about administration officials.
“It has been a change of command but it will not be a change of strategy,” Rasmussen said at a press conference in Lisbon with Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado.
“I can assure the Afghan people that we’ll stay as long as it takes to secure their country,” he added, noting that Petraeus had given a similar message.
“Obviously that’s not forever,” he said. “We’ll end our mission when the Afghans are capable of securing their own country themselves.”
Rasmussen was on his first visit to Portugal as Nato chief to discuss with local officials, including Prime Minister Jose Socrates, the summit of the alliance to be held in Lisbon at the end of November.
“I hope that we will be able to make an announcement at the summit that transition can start in some provinces (of Afghanistan) but of course conditions must be fulfilled.” he said.
“This is a reason why our training mission in Afghanistan is so important. We have to train and educate Afghan soldiers and Afghan police.”
Rasmussen said the summit of the alliance’s 28 member states would shape the future of Nato.
“We’ll take important decisions as to how Nato can adapt to the security challenges of the 21st century,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2010.
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