President Obama, right, meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on July 8at the White House. (Mandel Ngan / AFP)
WASHINGTON — The leader of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said Tuesday that Afghanistan needs to sign security agreements by the time of a NATO summit in early September.
Otherwise, “we would be faced with severe problems as regards planning for a training mission after 2014,”Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after meeting with President Obama.
Post-combat security agreements involving Afghanistan, the United States and its allies have been delayed because of disputed results in the Afghan presidential election.
Unlike President Hamid Karzai, both Afghan presidential candidates — Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani — have agreed to approve the security agreements. Allegations of fraud could push back an inauguration set for Aug. 2.
The NATO summit is set for Sept. 4-5 in Wales.
Afghanistan was a major topic of the meeting between Obama and Rasmussen. The leaders also discussed the prospects of more sanctions on Russia if it does not stop support for armed separatists who launched attacks in Ukraine.
Obama and Rasmussen spoke about bolstering defense assistance to NATO partners, particularly those near Russia.
“The secretary general’s visit underscores the vital importance the United States places on NATO as the cornerstone of our alliance with Europe,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Earnest said Obama spoke by phone Monday night with presidential candidate Abdullah.
Obama made clear “that we expect a thorough review of all reasonable allegations of fraud and that there is no justification for resorting to violent or extra-constitutional measures,” Earnest said. “We’ve been clear that any such move would cost Afghanistan the financial and security assistance of the United States of America.”
Though U.S.-led combat operations are scheduled to end this year, Obama has pledged to maintain a residual force of nearly 10,000 troops to help train Afghan soldiers. That force would be reduced in future years.
First, however, Afghanistan must sign a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States and a companion agreement with NATO.