The Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has travelled to Afghanistan for meetings with the President, Hamid Karzai. In a joint press conference, the NATO leader exclaimed his pleasure at the progress taking place on the military front:
“I am looking forward to July, when Afghan security forces will take over in the first seven provinces and districts, representing about one quarter of the population. This is a very substantial start. Transition is on track — and the direction is clear.
“In fact, transition is already happening. Across the country, Afghan security forces are showing that they are ready and they are able to start taking the lead. Their numbers are impressive. 290,000 now and I expect more to come. And their quality is also improving. Last week, over 35,000 Afghan soldiers and police were in training. That’s an all-time high.”
On 24th May 2011, the two leaders met for discussions regarding the transition from security provided by ISAF forces (International Security Assistance Force) to a fully functional Afghan National Army controlled territory.
The NATO-Afghanistan Enduring Partnership will also be on the agenda. The agreement will see support extended beyond the 2014 deadline for withdrawal of ISAF forces, including a range of training and administrative activities:
“capacity building efforts, such as professional military education programmes, previously undertaken through the Afghan Cooperation Programme. The ‘Afghan First’ programme will continue to identify Afghan companies eligible for NATO-ISAF contracts, while ‘Building Integrity’ courses will enhance knowledge of the impact of corruption and identify good governance initiatives.
“The Enduring Partnership will support the process of normalisation of the aviation system sector, with the aim of establishing an independent Civil Aviation Authority. Other activities include training in civil emergency planning and disaster preparedness, as well as enhanced public diplomacy efforts.
The NATO Secretary General also took the opportunity to congratulate the Afghan President on the 1700 insurgents who have reintegrated and renounced allegiance to the Taleban.