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13 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Defense ministers from NATO's 26 member countries are scheduled to meet today in Berlin to discuss the alliance's role in Afghanistan after parliamentary elections in the war-torn country on 18 September.

NATO currently leads a 10,000-strong International Security Assistance Force in the north and west of the country. The United States has called on NATO to eventually take overall command of the 20,000-strong U.S.-led coalition focused on fighting insurgents.

The defense ministers are also expected to discuss NATO's future during the two-day meeting in Berlin. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said he will urge the ministers to reach a "common political understanding on what a transformed alliance would look like and be capable of doing."

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov will meet his NATO counterparts on 14 September for talks expected to focus on joint actions to fight drug trafficking in Afghanistan.

(Reuters/dpa)

For RFE/RL's full coverage of the 18 September elections in Afghanistan, see "Afghanistan Votes"
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