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NATO to Announce Afghan Power Transfer Plan

United States, NATO to Announce Afghan Power Transfer Plan

By MacKenzie Babb
Staff Writer

Washington - The United States and its NATO partners are preparing to announce plans to transfer security control of Afghanistan's 34 provinces to the Afghans by the end of 2014, according to senior U.S. officials.

President Obama's special assistant for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Doug Lute, said during a White House briefing November 16 that the military transfer will begin early in 2011 with plans for completion by the end of 2014. Lute said the transition was possible "based on conditions on the ground and as a result of the surge in international resources."

He added that the transfer will be a steady, progressive process that will be carefully monitored.

The official announcement will be made during the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, November 19-20. Following that summit, leaders from the European Union and the United States will meet for the U.S.-EU Summit, also in Lisbon.

Lute called the summit a "strategic milestone" for the mission in Afghanistan and said NATO is expected to endorse an enduring partnership with Afghanistan that includes sustained support for the development of Afghan national security forces.

"As Afghanistan becomes increasingly self-reliant, it won't have to do so immediately on its own, but rather it will be reassured by way of this enduring commitment," he said.

Lute commended a recent Canadian decision to commit 750 trainers and 200 support troops to Afghanistan to assist in the transition. He spoke along with other top U.S. officials ahead of the NATO Summit.

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U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder said that in addition to Afghanistan, another key issue of the summit will be the adoption of a new 21st-century Strategic Concept. The last Strategic Concept was adopted at the 1999 NATO Summit in Washington. Normally the Strategic Concept is developed about every 10 years.

He said the document "will lay out what the role of NATO is in this 21st century, how we will defend the allies and ourselves against new threats, as well as how we work with other countries and partners around the world."

Daalder added that the vision statement will include plans to beef up cyberdefenses and to embrace missile defenses to protect Europe against "the growing threat of ballistic missiles."

He said the summit will also include a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council - the first to be attended by both President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

"We see this as an opportunity to move to a new stage in the relationship, moving from focusing on our differences and talking about them ... to practical cooperation on a whole host of issues," Daalder said.

He said topics to be discussed range from piracy and terrorism to counternarcotics cooperation and weapons proliferation.

Daalder said NATO and Russia are expected to enhance cooperation in Afghanistan, including joining counternarcotics efforts. Russia is also expected to sign a new transit agreement to allow more goods to be shipped through its territories to Afghanistan, particularly by rail.

ENDS

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