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Afghan president sees stability in new NATO relationship

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and the Afghan Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, on their way for a bilateral meeting in Brussels, Monday, Dec. 1, 2014.

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By SLOBODAN LEKIC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 1, 2014

BRUSSELS — The coming launch of NATO’s training and advisory mission in Afghanistan will mark a new phase in Kabul’s relationship with the alliance that will bring peace and stability to the country, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Monday.

The newly elected president, who was making his first visit in that role to alliance headquarters on Monday, thanked NATO for all it had done for Afghanistan during the combat mission due to end this month.

The alliance first assumed responsibility for security in the country in August 2003. More than 3,400 NATO troops have died and more than 30,000 have been wounded during the ongoing war with Taliban insurgents.

“What brings us together is a compelling phase of mutual interests,” Ghani told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during the welcoming ceremony. “We hope that the new phase will bring stability and prosperity to our people and security to the world.”

NATO foreign ministers are due to meet Tuesday to approve an executive directive that will formally launch the new advisory mission known as Resolute Support.

Afghanistan’s parliament recently ratified two security pacts with the United States and NATO that will provide the legal basis for the new mission.

“We now have in place what we need to move forward with our new mission ... to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces from Jan. 1, 2015, and build on our common achievements,” Stoltenberg said. He pledged to continue financial support for the Afghan security forces.

The previous administration of President Hamid Karzai had repeatedly delayed concluding the agreements, which do not allow for the prosecution of foreign troops by Afghan courts.

Abdullah Abdullah, the Afghan cabinet’s chief executive, who accompanied Ghani, said that the problem had now been solved and the legal framework for the follow-on mission was complete.

Washington has already pledged nearly 10,000 troops — mainly trainers and advisers — along with a contingent of anti-terrorism forces. NATO is expected to contribute about 2,000 more troops.

NATO officials said a force-generation conference would be held at the alliance’s military headquarters in Mons, Belgium, where member nations will commit the additional forces.

Most alliance countries are expected to pledge troops to the new mission, officials said.

American officials have indicated that the U.S. might commit up to 1,000 more troops to help with the NATO mission, which has fallen short of its manning targets, jeopardizing its postwar plans.

Taliban insurgents, who have launched a spate of attacks in recent months against the Afghan security forces, have said they will continue fighting until all foreign forces leave the country.

lekic.slobodan@stripes.com

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