NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen weighed in on one of the biggest issues likely to be addressed at this weekend's NATO summit in Chicago, saying on Sunday that he is "optimistic" about the international commitment to fund the Afghan forces that will take over security after the U.S. leaves the country in 2014.
"I am optimistic about fundraising for the Afghan security forces because, at the end of the day, it is less expensive to finance the Afghan security forces to do the combat than to deploy our own troops," he said on CNN's State of the Union.
According to the Associated Press, the forces currently cost about $6 billion a year, a price paid by the U.S. and other NATO-member nations. After the U.S. exits the country, the cost is expected to drop to $4 billion, and NATO member states are discussing how to address those costs at this weekend's summit.
Rasmussen said funding the Afghan security forces was "a responsibility for the whole international community," and that while NATO and ISAF countries will contribute, "countries in general in the international community have a responsibility and also have an interest in insuring that the Afghan security forces maintain a capability to take full responsibility for security in Afghanistan after 2014."
He also defended NATO's decision not to get involved in Syria while choosing to engage in Libya, arguing that the circumstances were completely different in the two nations.
"We took responsibility for the operation in Libya to protect the civilian population, because we had a clear mandate from the United Nations, and we got clear support from a number of countries in the region. None of these conditions are fulfilled when it comes to Syria," he said.