BRUSSELS — NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday won a fifth year at the helm of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, leaving him in place to help oversee a difficult withdrawal from Afghanistan.
"Following a process of consultations, Allies approved today Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's fifth year in office, thus extending his mandate until July 31st 2014," the alliance said in a statement.
Rasmussen, 59, served as Danish prime minister from 2001-09 and is NATO's 12th secretary-general.
The statement announcing the extension of his single 4-year mandate said the allies would support Rasmussen "in his dedicated work to carry forward NATO's tasks, missions and objectives, based on consensual allied decisions."
The alliance, headquartered in Brussels, was set up in 1949 as the United States bolstered Western Europe at the onset of the Cold War with the then communist Soviet Union
Its now 28 member states vow to defend each other in case of external attack and in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, NATO intervened to force the Taliban from Kabul as part of the global war on terror.
It had been expected that Rasmussen would get an extension as NATO prepares for the difficult process of handing over security responsibility to Kabul and withdrawing from Afghanistan by 2014.
At a brief press briefing, Rasmussen said he saw no problem in leaving his post in July 2014, just before the NATO withdrawal is completed.
"The new secretary general will (be in place) to oversee implementation of the new mission we will establish in Afghanistan in 2015," he said.
On Monday, the secretary general said he would finalise next year the main lines of NATO's future mission in Afghanistan so as to be well prepared for the withdrawal and handover.
NATO defence ministers meet in Brussels next week to discuss the alliance's role in Afghanistan after 2014 which will focus on training, advice and assistance.
NATO heads agreed in May at a Chicago summit to launch an assistance mission post-2014.
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