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Karzai meets NATO on Afghan troop withdrawal

Karzai meets NATO on Afghan troop withdrawal
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The second day of the NATO summit in Lisbon is expected to confirm the goal of withdrawing most foreign troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Doubts remain in the Pentagon and among NATO itself that the country will be ready. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai – who is at the summit -believes he and NATO share the same strategic interests.

While some coalition troops should remain in Afghanistan in 2015 and beyond, the aim is for their role to be largely in training Afghan forces.

After almost a decade in the country, it is clear that NATO is changing tack. No longer is the stated aim to defeat the Taliban. Instead the goal is for a political agreement including them.

The two-day summit has been described as one of NATO’s most important ever.

The first day saw member states agree to develop a joint defence shield against ballistic missile attack.

NATO hopes that Russia will agree to join the project.

It needs to to persuade a sceptical President Medvedev – also due to address the summit – to come on board.