US to maintain 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of 2016: Kerry

US-troops-AfghanistanThe US Secretary of State John Kerry has said 9,800 American troops will remain in Afghanistan through most of this year.

“Tomorrow we will discuss Afghanistan. And we’re going to review the progress of the Resolute Support mission and the need to continue our financial assistance for Afghan Security Forces and the imperative of planning for a new, flexible, regional presence beyond 2016,” Kerry told reporters ahead of the NATO foreign ministerial in Brussels on Thursday.

Kerry further added “I will reiterate that America’s commitment to maintain 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of this year and 5,500 thereafter remains, with 3,400 assigned to NATO responsibilities.”

Meanwhile, the NATO Secretary General said the Ministers will also decide to sustain NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan beyond 2016, a clear demonstration of the Alliance’s commitment to Afghanistan.

Earlier, a NATO official, said “We expect Ministers to outline our future support for Afghanistan, along three strands of activities, through our commitment to sustain the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions beyond 2016.”

This comes as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and partners reaffirmed commitment to support financial sustainment of the Afghan National Security Forces at plenary meeting of the Afghan National Army Trust Fund Board last Wednesday.

During the meeting announcements were made of continued financial support for the sustainment of the Afghan security forces up to 2020.

In December last year, NATO and Resolute Support Partner Foreign Ministers agreed to work towards national decisions to be announced at, or prior to, the Warsaw Summit confirming financial commitments to support the Afghan security forces until 2020. -KP

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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