thinking right now, including the requirement that we set clear goals and achievable goals: We need to look at Afghanistan and Pakistan together, because success in one requires progress in the other; the imperative of a comprehensive approach with a strong civilian and diplomatic effort is necessary because we know there is no purely military solution to either Afghanistan or Pakistan; the centrality of building up Afghan security forces — because our goal is not to stay in Afghanistan, it’s to be able to leave, and to leave behind Afghan forces that can provide for the security and safety of the people of Afghanistan; and the need to ensure the security and legitimacy in this year’s presidential elections.
In each of these areas, NATO and it member countries plays a critical role. So does the European Union. The Secretary General and I will meet with that leadership after this press conference. And I look forward to hearing from representatives of non-NATO countries, as well, who are doing so much in Afghanistan.
So we had a very good meeting. There was an incredible amount of consensus around the table. Each member country spoke, including two of the aspirant nations. And I came away with a much clearer sense of what our NATO friends would like us to consider in this review.
I might add this is not the end of the consultation; this is essentially the beginning of it. Each of the member countries is going to submit in more detail their concerns, their recommendations and their observations. They all will be taken into consideration — because I know from my significant experience in this building — over 37 years — that we only succeed when, in fact, there is a real consensus. There’s a need for a real consensus as it relates to Afghanistan.
(Source: White House)