HELSINKI, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- NATO and the countries participating in the operation in Afghanistan will not leave the country after 2014, when Afghan troops will have taken over the security responsibility, a senior NATO official said Tuesday.
NATO's Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan Mark Sedwill made the remarks at a joint press conference with Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb after the two held a meeting here.
The transition in 2014 will not be the end of NATO's operation in Afghanistan, but the beginning of a new phase of the campaign, Sedwill said.
NATO and the countries participating in the operation in Afghanistan will not leave the country after 2014, although the Afghan troops will have taken over the security responsibility, he said. Instead, the tasks and role of the NATO troops in Afghanistan will change.
Sedwill stressed that after the transition in 2014, a long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the international community will still be needed to support the development of Afghan security forces as well as Afghanistan's socio-economic development.
"The transition in 2014 does not mean a withdrawal," said Stubb, adding that "We will be there as long as we are needed and required."
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced last November that NATO would start handing over control to Afghan security forces from the beginning of 2011 and the transition will be completed by the end of 2014.