NATO to determine 2016 troop levels for Afghanistan: Stoltenberg
KABUL (Pajhwok): NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said allies were expected to determine 2016 troop levels for Afghanistan and to forge a new strategy for countering unconventional threats on several fronts.
“The security environment in which we meet today is dark. “Terrorist attacks, violent instability, the breach of international rules,” the NATO top leader said at the start of a two-day foreign ministers’ meeting in the Belgium capital, Brussels.
He said allies would step up plans for dealing with the southern threat, where in recent days Germany and the United Kingdom announced plans to increase the presence of air and sea power.
NATO will consider ways to bolster contributions to the US-led coalition in Syria and Afghanistan as well as more measures for reassuring the security concerns of Turkey, which downed a Russian warplane last week that had allegedly violated its airspace.
“We will discuss how we can continue to support Turkey and provide different kinds of assurance measures,” Stoltenberg said.
US ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute told reporters Monday that it was expected that the alliance would “parallel the US decision to sustain its current mission and its current force posture through 2016.”
“The bottom line I think is that for NATO, Afghanistan remains unfinished business. And despite these competing challenges closer to home, we have to follow through on those commitments,” he said.
Meanwhile, near the conclusion of NATO’s meeting on Wednesday, allies will vote on whether to extend NATO membership to Montenegro, a small county that for years has sought to become the alliance’s 29th member.
Lute said the first meeting was in Resolute Support format and it was therefore obviously a meeting on Afghanistan.
“Here the 42 countries of the NATO-led coalition will join (Afghan) Foreign Minister (Salahuddin) Rabbani who will give us an update on political progress after what has been admittedly a tough year on the security front.”
About the Afghan Air Force, he said an air force, at least a modern, capable air force, could not be created in just several years.
“We’ve been at this for some time with the Afghan Air Force. It’s going to take a while. They have only an emerging capability, mostly helicopter based today and they don’t have enough close air support. “
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