NATO allies show support for new U.S strategy in Afghanistan

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NATO defence ministers showed support for the new U.S strategy in Afghanistan, committing to raise troop levels from the present 13,000 to 16,000 soldiers, NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

The two-day NATO defence ministerial meeting which began on Wednesday is the first high-level meeting of the allies since U.S President Donald Trump announced a new strategy for the country in August, also calling for stronger support in Afghanistan.

“I strongly welcome the strengthened commitment and support demonstrated by all allies and partners,” Stoltenberg said.

He noted that 27 countries had pledged to increase troop levels of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, which presently has 13,000 troops from 39 NATO allies and partners and focus on training and assisting local forces.

U.S Defence Secretary, James Mattis said the new strategy was “very well-received and firmly supported’’ by NATO allies.

“NATO nations and coalition partners are in the process of finalising troop increases and additional support efforts,’’ Mattis said.

About half of the additional 3,000 troops are expected from the U.S and the rest from other allies and partners.

Stoltenberg said that NATO was committed to staying in Afghanistan “as long as we deem it necessary’’.

“The aim is to enable the Afghans to take full responsibility for their own security without NATO troops being present on ground,’’ he said.

“But as the conditions are now, we see that there’s an obvious need for increased NATO presence.’’

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