UNITED NATIONS —
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says he is confident that Afghan forces can take charge of security behind a new government in Kabul that comes as part of a political power-sharing agreement following this year's historic elections. The NATO secretary general spoke with VOA at the United Nations about Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine.
Rasmussen welcomed the power-sharing arrangement between Afghanistan's new president Ashraf Ghani and its new chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, saying NATO looked forward to the quick signing of agreements to permit the deployment of an alliance-led training mission in January 2015.
That will replace the NATO-led international security force that has been in Afghanistan since 2001. With that change, Rasmussen told VOA that he believed Afghan forces were up to the challenge of Taliban fighters who opposed the new government.
"I'm confident that the Afghan security forces can take full responsibility for security in Afghanistan by the end of this year as planned. They have been in the lead of security operations during the last year, and they have handled also difficult security situations quite professionally," he said.
Rasmussen said NATO had no formal role in the coalition that was striking Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria but was ready to resume its training mission in Iraq if the new government in Baghdad asked.
"We have also decided to strengthen the exchange of intelligence and information to counter the risk and threats from foreign fighters returning to our home countries," he said.
Rasmussen said Russia's invasion of Ukraine was "a blatant breach of international law" that would forever change how NATO approached Moscow.
"After the end of the Cold War we had an historic chance to create something new in Europe: a Europe whole, free, and at peace. And to that end we also need cooperation with Russia. However, today we have to realize that Russia doesn't consider us a partner but an adversary. And we will have to adapt to that," said the NATO Secretary General.
Rasmussen ends his five-year term as NATO chief later this month. He will be replaced by the former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg.