Kerry, in Brussels, reaffirms commitment to post-2014 training mission in Afghanistan

Secretary of State John F. Kerry joined his NATO counterparts here Tuesday for discussions on the 28-member alliance’s joint operations in Afghanistan and plans to withdraw all combat troops by the end of 2014.

“I reaffirmed our commitment to the Afghan people and to our determination that Afghanistan not ever become a haven for terrorists,” Kerry said in a news conference after the foreign ministers’ meeting. “To that end,” he continued, “we are committed beyond 2014” to a training and advisory mission whose parameters are being negotiated between the Afghan and U.S. governments.

“Obviously, President Obama has yet to make his personal decision about the numbers” of troops for that longer-term mission, Kerry said.

Other NATO members that are part of the U.S.-led international force in Afghanistan are awaiting the U.S. agreement with Kabul before committing their own post-2014 troops, although Germany and Italy are expected to maintain forces of at least several hundred each.

In a brief statement after his own meeting with the alliance, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that his nation’s forces — “the ones you trained and equipped”— would provide security after the international combat troops leave but that he was “glad to hear” of the commitment to continued training.

Karzai is scheduled to hold a meeting here Wednesday with Kerry and Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. U.S. efforts to bring the neighboring countries closer are designed to facilitate peace negotiations with the Taliban, but the Afghan-Pakistani relationship has been fraught with difficulties.

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