Most NATO partners willing to extend Afghan plans: Carter
Carter, who addressed a press conference in Brussels amid a defence ministerial meeting, signaled a new willingness to rethink the number of US troops that should remain in Afghanistan after next year.
“I have asked all of the NATO partners to remain flexible and to consider the possibility of making adjustments to the plan, which is now 2½-years old, for the presence in Afghanistan in coming years,” Carter told reporters. He said a number of countries had indicated a willingness to change their own plans and posture.
Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, said decisions on the NATO presence after 2016 must be made by the end of the year. He signaled that defense ministers had displayed a willingness to consider extending the troop presence.
Currently about 12,000 coalition troops, including about 10,000 US troops, are stationed in Afghanistan as part of the alliance resolute support mission which is to train and advise Afghan security forces and conduct counter-terrorism operations.
Earlier Thursday, the German defense minister said the NATO alliance needs to consider extending its mission in Afghanistan based on the fighting conditions in the country.
“If the Afghan people need for a longer time our support, we need to look at how we go forward and whether we should stay longer,” Ursula von der Leyen, the German minister, said at the start of the meeting.
Earlier this week, Army Gen. John Campbell, the top international commander in Afghanistan, said he favored a slower drawdown of forces to extend the US troop presence.
The White House hasn’t yet announced a decision on whether it will revise its draw down plans, but said it would consider the military’s recommendations.
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