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    Pact on Afghan forces’ strength being discussed: NATO

    KABUL (PAN): The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Monday said discussions with allies and the Afghan government are ongoing to reach an agreement on a specific number of Afghan security forces after 2014.

    Speaking at a news conference in Kabul, the spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Mission (ISAF), Brigadier-General Carsten Jacobson said the strategy on the strength of Afghan security forces remained unchanged, with efforts underway to increase their number to 352,000 by the end of this year.

    "By the end of the year, we will have 352,000 members of the Afghan security forces," Jacobson told the news conference

    He added discussions were ongoing with the Afghan government and countries contributing troops to Afghanistan about the proposed agreement on the strength of Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.

    He said the alliance would continue to support the Afghan forces until they become able of maintaining security on their own and shouldering responsibilities with a limited foreign support in the future. He said the specific number of Afghan forces would come to know after the Chicago summit in May this year.

    The number of Afghan security forces would be increased to 352,000 before the withdrawal of international troops, but the number could reduce due to lack of resources with the Afghan government after 2014, he said.

    Speaking on the occasion, NATO’s civilian representative in Afghanistan, Dominic Medley said NATO defence ministers who met in Brussels last week had initial discussions over the number of Afghan security forces and responsibilities of NATO and ISAF after completion of the security transition.     

    The summit participants insisted that Afghan security forces should shoulder the security responsibility for their country, he said, adding NATO would maintain a stable partnership with the Afghan government and people beyond 2014.

    The capability of the Afghan security forces was growing quickly throughout the country, he said. “That is why the transition is proving to be a success".

    Medley insisted that NATO would not leave Afghanistan alone and only its combat mission would end by 2014. He said the international community was committed to its pledges with Afghanistan.

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