NATO head: No Afghan deal means no troops past '14


| Zoom

BRUSSELS (AP) - If Afghan leaders and the White House can't agree on a key security pact, the U.S.-led alliance will pull all of its troops and equipment out of Afghanistan by December, NATO's secretary general said Wednesday.

The announcement from Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the start of a NATO defense ministers meeting ratchets up the pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to strike a deal.

On Tuesday, President Obama threatened to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 if the pact isn't signed.

The U.S. and Afghanistan had agreed the details of a security pact last year, and the agreement was also endorsed by a council of 3,000 Afghan tribal elders known as the Loya Jirga. But Karzai caught Western officials off guard by then declaring he wanted his successor to sign the agreement.

Without that agreement, Rasmussen said, forces from other alliance member nations cannot stay either. There are roughly 19,000 non-U.S. forces now in Afghanistan, along with 33,000 Americans.

"Let me stress, this is not our preferred option," Rasmussen said. "But these are the facts _ the facts that we need to take into account in our planning."

NATO's preference is to remain and shift in 2015 to a mission of training, assisting and advising Afghan security forces. "But if we don't have the legal framework in place, we will have to withdraw everything by the end of the year," said Rasmussen.

There was a note of exasperation in the normally composed Dane's voice as he mentioned the "continued delays we have faced," trying to secure a commitment from Afghan leaders.

"We stand ready to establish the training mission after 2014," he said. "But time is of the essence."

In Afghanistan, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked whether there is a deadline for deciding whether any U.S. or coalition troops will remain after 2014.

"I think the drop dead deadline - the answer will vary from coalition partner to coalition partner," Dempsey said. He said that was the conversation he was certain U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the other ministers would be having in Brussels.

"Each of those countries are likely to have a different answer to that question what's the drop dead date," Dempsey said.

___

Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Trial Beginning
    Twelve Seattle police officers will begin using new body-worn cameras next week

  • Week in Photos
    Penguins, cheetahs and Santa make it in this week's photos
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.