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NATO Chief Backs Starting Security Handover To Afghans Next Year

NATO's Anders Fogh Rasmussen (file photo)

NATO's Anders Fogh Rasmussen (file photo)

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says he hopes NATO member states will agree at an upcoming summit to start handing over security responsibilities in Afghanistan to Afghan authorities next year.

The NATO chief's comments came on August 30, as the deaths of four more NATO soldiers were reported due to fighting in Afghanistan.

The alliance said four U.S. troops were killed in a Taliban-style bomb attack -- raising to 21 the number of Americans killed in the past three days, according to the AFP news agency.

The alliance said an eighth NATO soldier, who was not American, was also killed the same day in a bomb blast in southern Afghanistan.

Canada, meanwhile, said one of its soldiers had died in the hospital after suffering injuries in a bomb attack in Afghanistan on August 22.

In his interview with Danish television, the NATO chief said the security situation in Afghanistan was "definitely" not satisfactory.

But he said there had been some progress in security, and that he hoped NATO members would agree at a November summit in Lisbon to begin gradually handing over security responsibilities in 2011.

Rasmussen added that he supported the intensification of the military campaign against Taliban strongholds in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, saying the Taliban had no chance of defeating NATO forces on a military level.

But he said the Afghan conflict couldn't be won by military means alone, as building stability will depend on educational, health, and economic advances as well.

compiled from agency reports