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NATO, U.S. Insist Insider Attacks Will Not Change Afghan Mission

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (left) talks to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen during a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels on October 10.
NATO and the United States say attacks by uniformed Afghans on foreign soldiers will not deter NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from carrying out its mission in Afghanistan.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made the statement on October 10 at the end of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

Attacks by Afghan police and soldiers on international troops, the so-called green-on-blue attacks, have killed some 50 foreign soldiers this year.

Concerns were raised that the attacks would undermine trust between Afghan and NATO troops and diminish public support in NATO countries.

Rasmussen called the situation "a real challenge" and pledged to tackle it "very seriously." But he said NATO would not permit militants to derail its efforts to build trust between the international force and the Afghan people.

"The enemies of Afghanistan are using insider attacks to try to undermine trust and public confidence. But this will not work," Rasmussen said.

"We will not allow the enemy to change our strategy and undermine the trust and confidence we have built."

Rasmussen said the large majority of the Afghan people lived in parts of the country where the situation was stable and calm. Rasmussen said that "80 percent of the enemy attacks take place in areas where only 20 percent of the Afghan population lives."

Call For More Training Contribution

Panetta sought to reassure NATO allies effective action is being taken to stop green-on-blue and other types of attacks against foreign troops:

"Whatever tactics the enemy throws at us -- IEDs [improvised explosive devices], insider attacks, car bombs -- we will not allow those tactics to divide us from our Afghan partners and we will not allow those tactics to divert us from the mission that we are dedicated to," Panetta said.

He also said the United States had contributed "a disproportionate number" of training teams and urged the other defense ministers to help fill the shortfall of military training teams in Afghanistan.

The U.S. defense secretary said the teams were critical to building the capabilities of the Afghan forces so they can take control of their country's security by the end of 2014, when all NATO combat troops leave Afghanistan.

Panetta asked that NATO allies provide the roughly 60 teams that are needed to bring the total to 465 -- and give those commitments by later next month.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa
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