NATO Renews Commitment to Afghanistan

    Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak holds a news conference after a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers with non-ISAF contributing nations in Brussels, April 19, 2012.
    Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak holds a news conference after a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers with non-ISAF contributing nations in Brussels, April 19, 2012.

    At a meeting in Brussels Thursday, the foreign ministers from the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan renewed their commitments to continue supporting the country's government and security forces during and after the transition to full Afghan control, scheduled to be completed two-and-a-half years from now.

    Afghanistan's defense minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, called this “a critical juncture and a defining moment” for his war-ravaged country. He said international commitments of continuing support - to be finalized at the NATO summit next month - will reassure Afghans about their future security and send a message to insurgent groups that they can not wait out the foreign presence and must negotiate a settlement.

    Wardak said this week's dramatic Taliban attacks exposed some weaknesses in intelligence gathering, but overall he defended the performance of the Afghan forces. “Based on all the analysis, I think everybody is of the opinion that the Afghan National Security Forces performed very, very well, which was a demonstration of their improved capacity and also coordination," he said. "And also that the investment of the international community was worth it.”

    Wardak also justified his government's request for $4 billion in annual international funding for its security forces after most foreign forces leave in 2014. He said for all the attention the figure is getting, it is much lower than the $150 billion foreign countries are spending now to have their own troops in Afghanistan.

    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the NATO Summit in Chicago will include 32 non-NATO countries and international organizations, which he said is evidence of a global commitment to Afghanistan's future.

    But Russia may not be there. After meeting NATO ministers Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country wants to be in all NATO discussions with its non-NATO partners about Afghanistan because Russia provides important transport links for the effort. He indicated that without such a guarantee - which Secretary-General Rasmussen was not prepared to give - Russia may decide not to participate in what Lavrov called “the festivities” in Chicago. He also criticized NATO's Afghan transition timeline, saying that adhering to it could leave an unstable Afghanistan behind.

    NATO officials say they will not let that happen. But still, the Chicago Summit will likely not involve celebrations. The allies know there will be much fighting and dying in Afghanistan during the coming years. And they acknowledge that the country's long-term stability depends on the performance of its fractious and corruption-laden government and on a so far struggling peace process with the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

    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.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora