NATO may need Afghanistan invite to remain after 2014

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NATO will be able to operate in Afghanistan after 2014 without a mandate from the United Nations if the Afghan government extends an invitation, the alliance chief said.
Speaking at a press briefing in Brussels, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen replied to a question about Russia’s opposition to a post-2014 NATO presence in Afghanistan without a UN mandate that the Afghan government could invite the alliance to stay, ToloNews reported.
“We operate right now in Afghanistan on the basis of a United Nations Mandate; we would be able to operate in Afghanistan after 2014 on the basis of an invitation from the Afghan government. That will be fully in accordance with international law,” Rasmussen said.
“On top of that if we could have a United Nations mandate it will be a good thing, but we could operate in Afghanistan on the basis of an invitation,” he added, also praising Russia’s cooperation in providing Nato with a transit route to Afghanistan.
On the change of Nato’s mission after the Isaf mission ends in 2014, Rasmussen stressed that training was the aim and the foreign instructors would be protected.
“We have started planning for our post-2014 mission in Afghanistan. The core will be the training mission. It will be a mission different from the current Isaf combat mission – it will be a training mission – but obviously we will make sure that our trainers and instructors can operate in a secure environment,” he said.
“We are in the very early stage of our planning. We took the first step when the defense ministers met in October, we will take the next step when they meet in February, and I would expect the final preparation to be completed by mid 2013.”
“So, at this stage we have not made details and decision as regard how to protect our trainers and instructors effectively, but it goes without saying that we will provide necessary protection of trainers and instructors,” he added.
Rasmussen reiterated that the Afghan forces should provide security for the presidential election in 2014 but reassured that Isaf forces will stand ready to provide assistance to Afghan security forces if necessary.
“I would like to stress the importance of secure environment for the conduct of this election. Having said that it’s also important to stress that it has to be the Afghan security forces that are in the lead for providing security in the run up to and during the elections in Afghanistan.
Like last time we stand ready to assist the Afghan security forces,” Rasmussen said, adding that handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan forces will not be undermined by the presidential elections as the handover will be complete by the spring of 2014.
Afghan security forces are already leading 85 percent of the operations, he said, with security improving in areas under transition and threats have decreasing in and around Kabul by up to 17%.