Nato set for 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan

Nato set for 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan

Nato set for 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan

But some senior Nato and Pentagon officials have expressed doubt that the 2014 deadline for a security handover can be achieved, with the threat posed by Taliban insurgents to Afghanistan’s weak government rising.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Lisbon before a Nato summit that the United States and the military alliance had listened to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who set the 2014 goal, and were addressing his concerns.

Karzai will attend the summit and have talks with US President Barack Obama on Saturday, the second day of the Nato summit in the Portuguese capital.

“We recognise and respect the sovereignty of the Afghan people and the government and we are working closely together,” Clinton said after talks with Portugal’s foreign minister.

“We will agree on the beginning of a transition to Afghan security starting next year with the intention and goal of turning over Afghan security to the government and people of Afghanistan in 2014... At the same time there will be continued commitment of civilian support,” she told reporters.

Nato leaders will announce the exit strategy at the summit, hoping to draw a line under a war widely seen as going badly for the US and its allies.

The leaders will also approve a new 10-year vision for Nato, underscoring the need for the 28-nation alliance to be ready for similar missions in the future, despite Afghanistan’s setbacks.

In an opinion piece and an interview before the summit, Obama said the US troop reductions would begin next July and reaffirmed commitment toward a reconciliation with the Taliban, which is fighting the Afghan government and foreign troops.

“America and our Nato allies strongly support a process that seeks reintegration into society of those Taliban who agree on some main points: they have to abandon violence, break their ties with al Qaeda and agree to live under the rules of the Afghan Constitution,” Obama told Spain’s El Pais newspaper.

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