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NATO leaders agree to sustain Afghan mission

natoBRUSSELS: Wrapping up a day-long summit, NATO leaders on Thursday agreed to do more to fight terrorism and ensure fairer burden sharing. They also reviewed the alliance’s training mission in Afghanistan, and agreed to continue to sustain the mission.

The meeting was a strong demonstration of transatlantic unity and resolve, with allies taking important decisions to do more in the fight against terrorism and to ensure fairer burden sharing across NATO.

 “NATO will become a full member of the Global Coalition, in which all 28 allies already take part,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.

He said they decided to develop annual national plans, setting out how allies intend to meet the defence investment pledge made together in 2014.

“The national plans will cover three major areas: cash, capabilities, and contributions,” said Stoltenberg.

Belgium handed over to NATO the new headquarters – a 21st century home for a 21st century alliance.

German Chancellor Merkel dedicated the Berlin Wall Memorial, a symbol of freedom and President Trump dedicated the 9/11 and Article 5 Memorial.

The NATO chief said one of the main issues they discussed was the fight against terrorism, which required a wide range of instruments.

He said they agreed an action plan for NATO to step up its efforts in the fight against terrorism. “We reviewed our training mission in Afghanistan, and we agreed that we will continue to sustain our mission.”

He welcomed some allies who forward with new troop contributions, saying on the basis of their review further decisions would be taken in the coming weeks. The NATO chief said they would continue training Iraqi forces

NATO’s relationship with Russia was another topic of discussion and the allies reaffirmed their dual-track approach — strong defence, combined with meaningful dialogue.

“We are delivering on both tracks. Allies stand strong together not to provoke a conflict, but to prevent a conflict and to preserve peace.”

The NATO chief said they agreed at the meeting that the leaders would meet again at a Summit in 2018.

To a question about a possible surge in troop level in Afghanistan,  said they had not decided exact troop levels for 2018. He said some allies also announced that they’re willing to increase their force contributions.

“But the exact force or troop levels will be decided later on this year,” he said, explaining the purpose was to strengthen the capabilities and the capacities of the Afghan National Security Forces.

“We are helping them (Afghans) to develop their own air forces – they are key in the fight in Afghanistan – and we are also helping them to improve command and control.”

Stoltenberg said the situation in Afghanistan was difficult  and there would be more violence and more challenges amid many unsolved problems in Afghanistan.

“But we have made progress especially in building a strong national Afghan army and security force which has proven capable, professional and able to take over responsibility for the security in Afghanistan, without NATO forces conducting combat operations, but with our support.”

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