Helsinki (Finland), Jan 26 (ANI): A senior NATO official has claimed his organisation and the countries taking part in operations in Afghanistan would not leave the country even after handing over security responsibilities to Afghan forces in 2014.
NATO's Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan Mark Sedwill made the remarks at a joint press conference with Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb after the two held a meeting at Helsinki in Finland.
Xinhua quoted Sedwill as saying that the transfer of power in 2014 will not be the end of NATO's operation in Afghanistan, but the beginning of a new phase of the campaign.
NATO also claimed that the participatory countries would continue to be present in Afghanistan, but only the role of NATO troops will change.
Sedwill insisted that a long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the international community would be required even after 2014 to nurture Afghan security forces, and for the country's socio-economic development.
Stubb said that the transition in 2014 does not mean a withdrawal, adding, "We will be there as long as we are needed and required."
Last November, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had announced that NATO would start handing over control to Afghan security forces from the beginning of 2011 and the transition will be completed by the end of 2014. (ANI)