Barack Obama: Confident Afghans can take security lead

 

President Barack Obama
and Nato leaders expressed confidence in Afghanistan's ability to take
the lead for its own security next year, as nations with a stake in the
deeply unpopular war met today for talks aimed at paving the way
for its end.

The alliance leaders, meeting in Obama's hometown, solidified plans for an "irreversible transition" in which Afghan security forces take control next summer with Nato sliding into a support role and ultimately withdrawing by the end of 2014.

Obama said the transition was "the next milestone" in Nato's plans for bringing the nearly 11-year long war to a close.

"This will be another step toward Afghans taking full lead for their security as agreed to by 2014 when the ISAF mission will end," Obama said as he opened a meeting of Nato leaders and partner countries who have participated in the war.

Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Afghans were already leading security operations in half the country and were on pace to meet next year's targets.

"Transition means the people of Afghanistan increasingly see their own army and police in their towns and villages providing their security," Rasmussen said. "This is an important sign of progress towards our shared goal: an Afghanistan governed and secured by Afghans for Afghans."

Nato leaders were joined by representatives of other nations that have a stake in the war, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Zardari's presence has cast a shadow over the summit. The US and Pakistan remain at odds over Pakistan's closure of key routes used to send supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan closed the supply lines in November following a US airstrike that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers. While both sides have indicated the issue will be resolved, no deal is expected to be reached during the Nato meetings.

Obama thanked other nations in Central Asia and Russia for their role in providing "critical transit" for supplies, but pointedly made no mention of Pakistan.

As Nato leaders herald the Afghan war's end, they face the grim reality of two more years of fighting ahead and more of their troops sure to die in combat.

Some Nato countries, most recently France, have also sought to end their combat commitments early. The Taliban and its allies have warned that they are waiting to fill the void in Afghanistan after Nato leaves.

Obama, eager to show election-year leadership on the world stage, has sought to straddle the line on the war during the two-day Nato summit.

He held a long meeting yesterday with Karzai and said later, "the Afghan war as we understand it is over."

Many alliance leaders, Obama chief among them, have a political incentive for trumpeting that drawdown plan, given the growing public frustration with the nearly 11-year-old war.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen