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NATO Defense Ministers Discussing Ukraine, Afghanistan

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
NATO defense ministers are meeting for a second day in Brussels to discuss continued financial support for Afghan government forces after the planned 2014 drawdown of NATO-led troops and ways of boosting cooperation with Ukraine.

Ahead of the meeting on February 22, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said ministers from would discuss “how we can best tailor our cooperation” to support Ukraine's program for reforming and modernizing its armed forces.

Rasmussen also said the session would review ways “to reinforce democracy and the rule of law that would benefit the people of Ukraine."

NATO defense ministers are also said to be considering plans to help Afghanistan maintain a security force of around 350,000 troops until at least 2018.

Last year, ministers had agreed to fund a smaller Afghan force of 230,000 troops.

NATO-led combat forces are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and there are concerns Afghan forces could struggle to maintain security against Taliban militants.

Funding an expanded Afghan force would cost NATO countries billions of dollars more.

Asked about the proposal, Rasmussen suggested the amount would still be less than cost of keeping NATO forces in Afghanistan.

With reporting by AP, and dpa
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