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NATO Determined To Expand Afghan Mission

Spanish Defense Minister Jose Antonio Alonso (left) talks to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld prior to today's meeting (epa) June 8, 2006 -- NATO is expressing determination to confront a surge in violence in Afghanistan and press ahead with the expansion of its mission there.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said today no one should doubt the alliance's commitment to this mission, nor its capacity to carry it out.

"Afghanistan is a long-term commitment, and allies are resolved to provide our mission with the military tools to do the job, as demonstrated by the substantial forces deployed and deploying in theater," de Hoop Scheffer said. "Our objective is to assist the government of Afghanistan in providing security thereby paving the way for reconstruction and development."

De Hoop Scheffer was speaking at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, which is also being attended by Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak.

German Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung said NATO had a duty to help stabilize Afghanistan.

Dutch Defense Minister Henk Kamp said NATO's mission is important for the Afghan people and the world.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is due in July to take over control of security operations in volatile southern Afghanistan from U.S.-led coalition forces.

(AP, AFP, dpa)

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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