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NATO to hand over Security to Afghan Forces by 2014

The NATO Summit ended Saturday with a declaration that said the transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces would begin next year and would be completed by the end of 2014.

The NATO Summit attended by 48 countries involved in Afghanistan met for two days in Lisbon, Portugal to discuss a number of important issues facing the alliance including top on agenda the situation in Afghanistan.

The Declaration signed by President Hamid Karzai, NATO Secretary General and UN Secretary General added that the NATO would remain committed to providing training and enablers to Afghan security forces so they can be capable of providing security on their own. The head of the alliance said it would not abandon Afghanistan in its fight against the Taliban.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance would start handing over authority to Afghan forces next year and hoped to complete the process by the end of 2014.

"Today marks the beginning of a new phase in our mission in Afghanistan. We will launch the process by which the Afghan government will take leadership for security throughout the country, district by district," Rasmussen said. "If the enemies of Afghanistan have the idea that they can just wait it out until we leave, they have the wrong idea. We will stay as long as it takes to finish our job."

NATO chief added the agreement is a signal to the Afghan people that the alliance will stay committed beyond 2014. He said it is also a signal to the region that NATO will not leave behind a security vacuum that could create instability.

Speaking at the same news conference, President Karzai said he was grateful on behalf of the Afghan people to the contributions and sacrifices all NATO member states had been enduring in Afghanistan. The President said it was because of these sacrifices that lives have improved in Afghanistan.

The President further stated that NATO leaders had all shared Afghanistan’s concerns on civilian casualties and the night raids.

Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General also congratulated Afghanistan and the NATO for the declaration that lays out the foundation for sustained partnership and said UN would continue to partner with Afghan government and NATO for their common objectives of peace and security.

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