Turkey indicates support for NATO's post-2014 mission in Afghanistan
Turkey has become one of the first NATO nations to indicate its readiness to support the alliance's post-2014 training mission in Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Chuck Hagel revealed on Wednesday. Hagel, addressing a press conference at the close of a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers, said Turkey is "favorably considering serving as the framework nation in Kabul," the Afghan capital. The United States itself is committed to being the largest single contributor to the post-2014 mission, as well as being the "lead nation" in the east and south of Afghanistan. Italy and Germany have also said they are committed to being the lead nations for the west and the north, Hagel said. There was no statement from the Turkish delegation attending the ministerial meeting in Brussels, led by Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz. NATO is preparing to end its ongoing combat mission, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), by the end of 2014, when the Afghan forces will have taken over the security responsibility throughout the country. The new mission, dubbed "resolute support," is a non-combat training mission and is still at an early stage of planning. NATO defense ministers endorsed during their meeting a detailed concept for the new mission, which NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said will guide further military planning throughout the months to come. He said: "the new mission will not be ISAF by another name. It will be different, and be significantly smaller. Its aim will be to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces, not substitute for them." The new mission will be based in five regions of Afghanistan -- in Kabul and in the north, west, south and east -- and will focus on the national institutions, such as the security ministries, and the corps levels of army and police command, Rasmussen told a press conference earlier on Wednesday. Turkey currently has 1,100 troops in Afghanistan operating as part of the ISAF mission.