German diplomat: West will not abandon Afghanistan after 2014
Jun 27, 2011, 13:42 GMT
Kabul - The international community will stay in Afghanistan even after the security transition from NATO to Afghan forces is complete in 2014, a senior German diplomat said Monday.
The comment was made at a meeting in Kabul of the International Contact Group (ICG) made up of 50 countries including Afghanistan's neighbours, to discuss developments in the region.
'The international community will stay with Afghanistan even once the transition is complete, so we will not repeat mistakes of the past,' the German representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Michael Steiner, told reporters.
'We will stay, out of our own interest,' he added.
Concerns have been raised in and around Afghanistan that the US-led coalition troops might abandon the country, after President Barack Obama announced the start of withdrawals from the war-torn country last week.
Under the new US plan, 10,000 American soldiers will leave Afghanistan this year, followed by a further 23,000 troops by the end of 2012. There are around 100,000 US soldiers and 40,000 other international troops in the country, but all combat forces are expected to leave by the end of 2014.
Afghanistan is poised to take security responsibility of seven sites from NATO-led troops next month, but most of the these areas are far away from those provinces still considered to be Taliban strongholds.
Steiner, who is also chairman of the ICG, said the troop-contributing countries have agreed that the drawdown would depend on conditions on the ground.
'Until the end of 2014, we need to have an orderly reduction of the international combat troops - provided we do it step by step, region by region, and district by district,' he said.
'The engagement of the international community will not end in 2014, but continues... differently, but effectively,' Steiner told a joint press conference with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman.
Grossman said the ICG representatives had met in Kabul to discuss the agenda for the November Regional Summit in Istanbul, Turkey and an international conference on Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany in December.
Negotiations with Taliban insurgents, the security transition and regional cooperation were among the topics discussed at the two-day meeting, which began Monday.
The ICG was formed in April 2009 after Obama suggested the establishment of a group including Afghanistan's neighbours as well as countries contributing troops to Afghan conflict.
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