News / Asia

NATO Endorses Plan to Exit Afghanistan in 2014, US Holds Back

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks at the Nato summit in Lisbon, Portugal, 20 Nov 2010
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks at the Nato summit in Lisbon, Portugal, 20 Nov 2010

NATO and Afghanistan signed an agreement in Lisbon marking the Atlantic alliance's commitment to the war-torn nation after it ends combat operations, ostensibly by the end of 2014. But a senior U.S. official said some combat troops would stay on beyond that deadline.

At a press conference flanked by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO would not abandon Afghanistan - or the region - even after its forces leave. He spoke minutes after signing an agreement with Mr. Karzai ensuring NATO's long-term presence in that country.

"The long-term partnership agreement we have signed today is not only a signal to the Afghan people that we stay committed beyond the date when the combat mission ends. It is also a clear signal to the region that we will not leave behind a security vacuum that could create instability in the region," he said.

Watch Suzanne Presto's Companion TV Report:

Mr. Rasmussen's remarks came as NATO's 28 member states formally agreed to start reducing troop levels in Afghanistan next year and to hand over full control of security operations to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. Mr. Rasmussen said he was confident that deadline could be met, because he said NATO forces were making progress in attacking the Taliban insurgency.

But a senior U.S. official said not all combat troops would be out of Afghanistan by that date, noting there was still a lot of hard fighting going on. And both Mr. Rasmussen and U.N. chief Ban cautioned that NATO's actions must reflect the realities on the ground.

"Basically I believe that the transition is not about the dates, it is about the status of health Afghanistan can take their leadership, can take ownership to promote their own stability and peace," said Ban.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Nato summit in Lisbon, Portugal, 20 Nov 2010
Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Nato summit in Lisbon, Portugal, 20 Nov 2010

The remarks follow criticism by Mr. Karzai of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, notably night raids against insurgents. But on Saturday, the Afghan president said NATO leaders had understood his concerns.

"Generaly I found the environment today one of satisfaction and of confidence towards a partnership that will bring us success in our endeavors," he said.

Besides talks on Afghanistan, NATO heads of state have also endorsed a new roadmap or stategic doctrine for the alliance based on the premise that an attack on one member is an attack against all.  NATO leaders are also holding talks with Russia on Saturday along with separate U.S.-European discussions.

You May Like

Map Shows Every US School Shooting Since 2013

There have been at least 150 school shootings in the United States since 2013, an average of nearly one per week More

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs