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NATO To Seek $2 Billion A Year For Afghanistan

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (right) with Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta in Kabul on March 18
LONDON (Reuters) -- NATO is seeking $2 billion a year from the international community to bolster Afghanistan's security forces, the "Financial Times" has quoted NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as saying.

De Hoop Scheffer said countries other than the United States, particularly those outside the 26-member NATO alliance, must provide funds to pay salaries and sustain the Afghan National Army and police over the next five years.

He added that a core task at a meeting of Afghanistan's neighbors in The Hague on March 31 will be to get governments to begin pledging the $2 billion a year to a NATO trust fund, which so far has only $25 million.

Germany said at the weekend it was ready to meet U.S. President Barack Obama's request for more resources in Afghanistan, saying it could step up its training of local police and security forces.

Unveiling a new Afghanistan strategy on March 27, Obama said the United States would continue to seek contributions from allies for combat forces, trainers and mentors, strategic lift and equipment.

According to the "Financial Times," de Hoop Scheffer said that he "would like to see the creation of a national training mission for Afghanistan where we double-hat the U.S. commanding officer and have him work for the U.S. side and the NATO side."