NATO Approves New Afghan Mission

NATO Approves New Afghan Mission NATO Approves New Afghan Mission

NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday formally approved the launch of a new advisory mission for Afghanistan after alliance combat operations end December 31.

The ministers took the action at a meeting with Afghanistan’s top two leaders in Brussels. After more than 10 years, it was the last NATO foreign ministers meeting to be held with alliance troops in combat in Afghanistan. The ministers affirmed plans for the remaining NATO troops to move into a training and advising role starting January 1, according to Voice of America.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the 12,000 advisory troops and a plan to help finance Afghanistan’s own security forces are part of a long-term commitment. He called this a “significant moment,” but also called on the new Afghan government to follow through on its reform plan.

The Afghan national unity government brings together President Asraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, bitter political rivals who have pledged to work together. After Tuesday’s meeting, Ghani called the session a “landmark” moment in Afghan history and pledged that the new government would take steps to enable Afghanistan to defend itself in the long term.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that there will be more US troops in Afghanistan after the end of the year than originally planned because of the delay in getting Afghan approval of key treaties that outline the status of the NATO forces.