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UN Stresses Afghan Security As U.S. Reduces Presence

U.S. General James Jones, the top U.S. commander, during a recent visit to Afghanistan (official site) 20 December 2005 -- The head of UN peacekeeping operations said today that NATO must increase its force in Afghanistan as the U.S. withdraws some of its troops from that country.

Jean-Marie Guehenno, the undersecretary-general in charge of UN peacekeeping operations, said there should be no interval between the reduction of U.S. forces -- announced today -- and an increase in the number of NATO troops serving in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) serving in Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said today that the United States would reduce its troop strength from 19,000 to 16,000 by the spring of 2006.

NATO has agreed to boost its strength from 9,000 to 15,000 troops, but individual NATO member states have not yet agreed on how many more soldiers and personnel they would send to Afghanistan.