(NEW YORK) -- Even as it seems that the international coalition has already begun pulling up stakes in Afghanistan after 10 years of deployment, the head of NATO said Wednesday that the alliance "will not abandon Afghanistan, we will not leave behind a security vacuum."
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen made the remarks in Australia, a country sticking to its commitment to bring a peaceful conclusion to the long war against the Taliban despite continued dissatisfaction with the conflict at home.
This week already, France's new president said that the gradual withdrawal of his nation's forces would begin next month and will conclude by the end of 2012. That's two years ahead of the rest of NATO.
However, Rasmussen asserted that NATO has a "common interest in and a common responsibility" to leave Afghanistan in the hands of a democratic government capable of defending itself for internal and external enemies.
He added, "I feel confident that by the end of 2014 the Afghan security forces will be able to take full responsibility for security."
In the same year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to leave office after two five-year terms and Rasmussen expressed confidence that the leader would abide by the constitution that prevents him from running for reelection.
While Karzai's relationship with the West has grown more contentious over the years, the U.S. and NATO at least know what they're getting with him as opposed to a new president, who may be less agreeable to foreign interference.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio