NATO's top official said Thursday that the international alliance remains committed to enabling Afghan forces to assume full responsibility for the nation's security after 2014 when the NATO coalition ends its combat mission.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO's goal is for Afghanistan to stand on its own feet, but said the country would not stand alone. Rasmussen has announced plans for a new, non-combat mission in Afghanistan to start in 2014.
Rasmussen appeared in a joint news conference in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Karzai said they earlier discussed plans for ending the mission on time or even early.
The 11-year Afghanistan mission is increasingly unpopular among NATO member nations, and there have been calls to put in place an accelerated drawdown plan.
Currently NATO has some 100,000 troops on its international force in Afghanistan to support Karzai's administration as the nation grapples with a Taliban-led insurgency.