21 Nov 2010

NATO backs transfer of military control to Afghanistan

7:48 am on 21 November 2010

NATO leaders have backed a strategy to transfer leadership for the fight against the Taliban to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai has signed a long-term security partnership during a meeting of the 28 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Portugal on Saturday.

Mr Karzai said the decision to transfer military control would give every Afghan a stake in the future of their country.

Under the plan, NATO will begin handing over control to Afghan forces next year, the BBC reports.

NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Lisbon summit had launched the process by which the Afghan people would again become the masters in their own house.

The goal is for Afghan forces to be in the security lead by the end of 2014 and to achieve this Mr Rasmussen said NATO's training mission would be crucial.

Several NATO allies and partners have agreed to provide more trainers for Afghan security forces.

However, Mr Rasmussen says NATO remains committed to Afghanistan and the Taliban will not be allowed simply to wait for foreign forces to leave.

The United States-led intervention in Afghanistan began in response to terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.