Sabtu, Juni 12, 2010

NATO Touts Progress in Afghan War Effort

BRUSSELS - NATO leaders declared that the alliance had regained the initiative in the Afghan war, promising that the gains could result in a handover of security responsibilities in some parts of the country to local authorities by year's end.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged his alliance counterparts to seize the moment and to provide the resources needed to accelerate efforts to bolster Afghan security forces. NATO wants Afghan troops to replace its forces in the war against the Taliban, thus providing the linchpin of the alliance's exit strategy.

"Our effort is moving in right direction (but) the road ahead will be long and hard," Gates said after a meeting of NATO's 28 defense ministers. "I hope that by the end of year, we will be able to demonstrate that we are making progress throughout the country."

Gates urged countries who are not committing combat troops to Afghanistan to contribute more instructors to train the expanding Afghan police and army. More trainers would step up "the pace that we can proceed with transition," he said.

NATO officials say they have been stymied because it is difficult to find qualified people to train foreign forces.

Earlier Friday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told ministers that the Afghan government and international authorities would soon agree on how to start handing over responsibility for security, "province by province."

His optimism comes despite troubles with the military campaign.

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