Obama, NATO, renew commitment to Libya, Afghanistan operations
Missions in Libya and Afghanistan must be maintained in order to ensure stability in those two countries, agreed US president Barack Obama and NATO's secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen Friday during a White House meeting, dpa reported.
NATO Secretary General stressed in a statement following the meeting that the United States remained committed to both operations and that it was a part of a greater coalition in both cases with significant support from Canadian and European forces.
He said the efforts over Libya, part of a United Nations mandate to protect civilians there from a backlash after anti-government demonstrations in February, was beginning to degrade the ability of forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi isolate Gaddafi.
"His time is up. It is time for the Libyan people to shape a new future, a future free from fear," said Rasmussen in a video statement.
"Day by day, we have been degrading Gaddafi's war machine and now we see the results. We have saved numerous lives. We have stopped Gaddafi's efforts to retake the country by force." The two sides agreed that the operations will continue so long as Gaddafi's forces attack Libya's civilian populations and noted the number of lives saved by NATO actions, according to a White House press release.
The two sides also agreed upon the importance of sustained NATO operations in Afghanistan, but looked ahead to the transition of operations to Afghan forces by 2014.
"Our mission in Afghanistan is a team effort. The US is not in this alone," said Rasmussen.
NATO has conducted operations in Afghanistan since 2001, after it helped overthrow the Taliban government, which had been sheltering al-Qaeda operatives responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.
The two also confirmed that the United States will host the next NATO summit, in 2012.