KABUL - Free and fair elections in 2014, when most NATO-led combat troops are to withdraw, would be an important milestone for Afghanistan, an official of the western alliance said on Tuesday.
Addressing a news conference in Kabul, NATO senior civilian representative's spokesman said the Afghan people expected their leadership to hold transparent and inclusive polls on schedule.
"Yes, the elections will be important. Their transparency, their credibility, their inclusivity will be of paramount importance. We know, the Afghan authorities have committed to uphold democracy and the constitution," he remarked.
Dominic Medley expressed his confidence that Afghan forces would be capable of securing their country by the end of 2014, including security for the presidential ballot.
NATO and the whole international community stood ready to support the election process, he said, referring to paragraph five of the Chicago Summit declaration, which laid out clearly Afghanistan's and NATO's commitment to the elections.
The summit agreed on a training, advising and assistance mission in the agreement with the Afghan government, he explained, recalling NATO/ISAF defense ministers started the planning for the new mission in Brussels two weeks ago.
In his opening remarks, the spokesman touched on last week's visit to Kabul by the secretary general and the North Atlantic Council, NATO's highest decision-making body. The trip sent a clear message that the alliance and the international community would stay committed to Afghanistan, he said.
During their three-day visit to Afghanistan, Anders Fogh Rasmussen and several ambassadors met President Karzai, senior ministers, members of the government, parliamentarians and regional leaders. They had briefings in Kabul, Herat, Mazar and Bagram.
Medley said one goal -- shared by NATO and Afghanistan -- was to see the Afghan forces fully responsible for security by the end of 2014. (Pajhwok)