|Date: 04/06/2012 Time: 04:36:00 PM
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Monday announced that the Alliance has reached an agreement on reverse transit
from Afghanistan with three Central Asian partners; Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and
"These agreements will give us a range of new options and the robust and
flexible transport network we need. I thank all three partner countries for
their support," he told a press conference in Brussels today.
NATO will wind up its combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014
and following the closure of the supply routes through Pakistan, the Alliance
is looking for other routes to transport its troops and equipments out of
NATO already has an agreement with Russia as a supply route to Afghanistan.
Rasmussen said he hoped talks with Pakistan would result in reopening of
the supply routes which the Pakistani government closed in protest after 26
Pakistani soldiers were killed in an NATO air strike at the Afghan-Pakistan
border in November.
The NATO chief said the Afghan army and police are taking the lead for the
security of 75 percent of the population.
"In the coming weeks, more than 100 districts and cities in Afghanistan
will begin the transition to Afghan security responsibility," he said.
Speaking at his first press conference after the Chicago NATO Summit, he
said "two weeks' ago, we set ourselves three clear goals: to shape the next
stages of our engagement in Afghanistan; to ensure NATO invests smartly in
future capabilities, even in times of austerity; and to strengthen our
relationship with our partners.
"We achieved those goals. Now we are taking the next steps," he said and
added that the Alliance is also making progress on implementing summit
decisions on the other two key areas.
In Chicago, NATO signed the contract to acquire an Alliance Ground
Surveillance capability which include unarmed drones which will allow NATO
commanders to see what is happening over the horizon at any time, and in any
weather, he noted.
In Chicago NATO also declared an Interim Missile Defence Capability.
"That capability has now been formally handed over to our NATO Headquarters
in Ramstein, in Germany. So our preparations are completed. This is a first,
but significant step towards our longer-term goal of providing full coverage
and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces," said
"I know Russia's concerns on this issue. So let me be quite clear: those
concerns are groundless. NATO missile defence is not directed against Russia,
and will not undermine Russia's strategic deterrent," he added.