NATO chief says future of Afghanistan will be up to the Afghan people, but he's confident no gains will be lost. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
As NATO prepares to wind down its operations in Afghanistan at the end of the year -- its secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirms the alliances commitment to stabilizing the country -- and ensuring that the gains made at such high a price are preserved. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NATO SECRETARY GENERAL, JENS STOLTENBERG, SAYING: "At the end of this year Afghan forces will assume full responsibility for the security of this country and I am confident that they are ready." Afghan forces have been largely left to fight the Taliban on their own this year, in their first real test since they were ousted from power in 2001 by U.S.-led forces. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NATO SECRETARY GENERAL, JENS STOLTENBERG, SAYING: "Next year we will open a new chapter. The future of Afghanistan will be in Afghan hands, but our support will continue. We will start a new mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces, we will also continue our financial support and as president Ghani and I discussed we want to further develop our long-term partnership with Afghanistan." President Ashraf Ghani strikes a note of optimism. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AFGHAN PRESIDENT, ASHRAF GHANI; SAYING: "Our desire is for peace and for sustainable peace so that peace will be enduring." A contingent of about 10,000 foreign troops, most of them American, will stay in Afghanistan after the end of the year to train and support Afghan forces.