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NATO Ministers Discuss Afghan Transition Plan

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (left) speaks with Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 11.
Defense ministers from the nearly 50 countries with troops in Afghanistan have gathered in Brussels for a meeting to discuss a plan to transfer responsibility for security to the government's security forces.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, speaking at the start of the meeting, said NATO was on track to start transfering security control in parts of the country to the government's forces.

The transfer is a key element in the West's plans to wind down its military role in Afghanistan after almost a decade of war.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned partners in the international force in Afghanistan against "uncoordinated national drawdowns" which he said would risk the gains made.

Gates told the meeting at NATO headquarters that "frankly, there is too much talk about leaving and not enough talk about getting the job done right."

The defense ministers from NATO's 28 members and some 20 other countries were expected to approve recommendations from a joint NATO-Afghan board on which districts, areas or provinces can make the transition first.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is to announce a final transition plan on March 21.

compiled from agency reports