KABUL, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) officially transferred authority of the Regional Command in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, said an ISAF statement released here on Sunday.
Maj. Gen. Marc Lessard, assuming authority from Maj. Gen. JackoPage, said in the ceremony that his focus is to maintain the initiative in the south area through an intense series of operations and activities.
"I see two priorities, firstly, to increase security within the region in order to ensure that Afghan government exercises its legitimate authority," said General Lessard.
"The second priority is to coordinate, to the greatest extent, the aspects of governance and development within the overall security framework," he added.
General Page stressed that the partnerships forged in the south, and strengthened during his past nine months as commander would continue.
"While this day is about change, in reality it is neither an end, nor a beginning, but a continuation," said General Page.
"It is a good partnership, a strong one and a productive one," said Page, "Afghans want a secure, peaceful and prosperous country and it's what they want and what they deserve."
General Lessard recently served as the Assistant Chief of the Land Staff, the second most senior appointment, in the Canadian army in Afghanistan.
Conflicts and Taliban-related insurgency had left more than 6,000 people dead in 2007, while observers predict more militants attack in 2008 in the post-Taliban Afghanistan.