NATO Council visits AfghanistanThe North Atlantic Council, NATO’s top decision-making body, visited Afghanistan on 26 and 27 April, to assess the situation on the ground, as the Alliance prepares to expand its mission in the country.
The Council met with President Hamid Karzai and senior members of his administration in Kabul. It was also briefed by NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Minister Hikmet Cetin, and the Special Representative of the United Nations, Mr. Jean Arnault.
These meetings focused on the planned expansion of NATO’s presence ahead of the September presidential and parliamentary elections. The Alliance has pledged to help support the UN and Afghan authorities in the preparation and conduct of the elections.
“This visit allowed us to gain a firsthand impression of the current situation and the challenges that lie ahead,” said NATO’s Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Minuto Rizzo, “But it was also a demonstration of NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan.”
More reconstruction teams by June
The Council also visited the 6,500-strong NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which has been supporting the Afghan Government in maintaining security in and around Kabul.
An important part of the trip was the visit by Council members to three Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). These are teams of civilian and military personnel that are working to facilitate the development of a secure environment beyond the capital.
This included a visit to the PRT in Kunduz, which is led by ISAF as a pilot project for a further expansion of the mission’s role. The Alliance’s goal is for ISAF to take control of five other PRTs by the end of June.
This was the North Atlantic Council’s first visit to Afghanistan.