Entries in Anders Fogh Rasmussen (4)


NATO Chief Promises Alliance Won't Abandon Afghanistan

JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages(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


Leon Panetta, NATO Officials Meet About Future of Afghan Mission

U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury(BRUSSELS, Belgium) -- NATO defense ministers, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, are in Brussels, Belgium, where the future of the mission in Afghanistan is topping the agenda at a two-day summit.

Panetta's remarks on Wednesday that the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan would wind down more than a year before the 2014 deadline for withdrawal seem to have landed on the NATO summit like a bombshell.

NATO Secretary Gen. Anders Fogh Rasmussen insisted there was nothing new; the transition would begin when the last province was handed over to Afghan security by mid 2013, he said.

"From that time the role of our troops will gradually change from combat to support.  In that there is nothing new," Rasmussen said.

The alliance, he insisted, would maintain its solidarity and stick to its goals.

Panetta's comments drew criticism, including GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who said the Obama administration should be "telegraphing" its strategy to the Taliban. However, the administration is trying to negotiate with the extremist group, which has stated it has no intention of joining a peace process.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


World Leaders Weigh in on Osama Bin Laden's Death

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- News of Osama bin Laden's death was cause for celebration in many countries around the world Monday, but the al Qaeda leader's death spurred mixed reactions in the Muslim world.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said the terrorist's death was a "great result in the fight against evil," and French President Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated the "tenacity of the United States" in its long search for bin Laden.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the result of the raid was "a resounding victory for justice, for freedom and for the shared values of all democratic countries that fight shoulder to shoulder against terror."

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called bin Laden's death a "significant success," and stressed that the NATO allies "will continue their mission to ensure that Afghanistan never becomes a safe haven for extremism, but develops in peace and security."

In Kenya, where a U.S. embassy was allegedly bombed by al Qaeda in 1998, President Mwai Kibaki remembered the 225 lives that were lost.

"His killing is an act of justice to those Kenyans who lost their lives and the many more who suffered injuries," he said.

But reaction in the Muslim world to the al Qaeda leader's death was predictably mixed.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai was greeted with applause when he delivered the news to local government leaders.

"I hope the death of Osama bin Laden will mean the end of terrorism," he said.  He also told reporters that the terrorist "received his due punishment," and that his hands "were dipped in the blood of thousands and thousands of children, youths and elders of Afghanistan."

Yet he also took the time to say that the battle against terrorism should be fought in Pakistan, and not in Afghan villages.

Meanwhile, in the same country, a rickshaw driver in Jalalabad hailed bin Laden as a hero in the Muslim world.

"His struggle was always against non-Muslims and infidels and against superpowers," Sayed Jalal said.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh condemned the United States for killing bin Laden, calling it a continuation of the American oppression and shedding of blood of Muslims and Arabs.

"Despite the difference in opinions and agenda between us and them, we condemn the assassination of a Muslim and Arabic warrior and we pray to God that his soul rests in peace," he told reporters in Gaza.

On the other hand, the leader of the Palestian Authority, Salam Fayyed, congratulated the United States on the raid.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NATO Takes Over Military Operations in Libya

ABC News(BRUSSELS) -- NATO announced on Sunday that its allies plan to take over military operations in Libya under the United Nations Security Council Resolution.

According to a statement by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Allies have decided to take on whole military operation with a goal of protecting civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack from the Gadhafi regime.

“NATO will implement all aspects of the UN Resolution,” said Rasmussen. “Nothing more, nothing less.”

Rasmussen said NATO has put a package of operations together that supports the United Nations Resolution both by sea and air. The release says NATO is already enforcing the arms embargo and no-fly zone in Libya, and Sunday’s decision will see the organization taking further action.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio