NATO leaders signed off Monday on President Barack Obama's exit strategy from Afghanistan that calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of the U.S.-led international military force by the end of 2014.
Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters at the conclusion of a two-day summit of the alliance leaders that the plan calls for handing over security responsibilities to Afghan forces in 2013, then withdrawing foreign forces the following year.
After that, a new and different NATO mission will advise, train and assist the expected 350,000-strong Afghanistan force, Rasmussen said.
Speaking later Monday, Obama said NATO leaders were leaving Chicago with "a clear road map" to bring the war in Afghanistan to a "responsible end."
"I don't think that there's ever going to be an optimal point where we say -- this is all done, this is perfect, this is just the way we wanted it and now we can wrap up all our equipment and go home. This is a process, and it's sometimes a messy process, just as it was in Iraq," he said.
The second day of their two-day summit focused on Afghanistan, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the heads of other countries contributing to the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force also in attendance.
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