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NATO and US differ over Afghan combat exit in 2014

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j7JtGpmE434JaIv4fQrNrW4Bw97w?docId=58b967ed1f9c4afa8a3dd913f620bf0a NATO and US differ over Afghan combat
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 20, 2010
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      http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j7JtGpmE434JaIv4fQrNrW4Bw97w?docId=58b967ed1f9c4afa8a3dd913f620bf0a

      NATO and US differ over Afghan combat exit in 2014
      (AP) – 4 hours ago

      LISBON, Portugal (AP) — NATO nations formally agreed Saturday to start reducing troop levels in Afghanistan next year and hand over control of security to the Afghans in 2014.
      But the U.S. and its allies appeared to take conflicting views on when NATO combat operations would end.
      NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen suggested NATO troops would no longer fight the Taliban after 2014.
      But a senior Obama administration official says the U.S. has not committed to ending its combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal administration discussions.
      THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
      LISBON, Portugal (AP) — NATO nations formally agreed Saturday to start reducing troop levels in Afghanistan next year and hand over control of security to the Afghans in 2014.
      The 28 member states and Afghanistan also signed an agreement for the Western alliance to remain in place after that date to provide military assistance for Afghanistan's armed forces — including air support, training, advice and logistics.
      NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance will not abandon Afghanistan after 2014 because it could slip back into chaos without assistance.
      "Here in Lisbon we have launched the process by which the Afghan people will become masters in their own house," Rasmussen said after NATO leaders including President Barack Obama reached a consensus on the handover date, first proposed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai last year, on the second day of Nato's annual summit in Portugal's capital.
      No details were provided on the precise nature of NATO's future role beyond the security handoff, but Rasmussen said that NATO troops would ideally no longer be fighting the Taliban.
      "I don't foresee (NATO) troops in a combat role beyond 2014, provided of course that the security situation allows us to move into a more supportive role," Rasmussen told reporters after the NATO leaders made their decision in a closed door session.
      Karzai predicted the effort will succeed "because I found today a strong commitment by the international community. This will be matched by the people of Afghanistan."
      Ivo Daalder, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, had said the 2014 goal and the end of NATO's combat role in Afghanistan beyond that date "are not one and the same."
      But many NATO nations have insisted they will remove all their troops by 2014, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague reiterated said his country will end its combat role in Afghanistan by 2015.
      "Make no mistake about it, that is an absolute commitment and deadline for us," the British news agency Press Association quoted him as saying.
      He added: "This remains a phenomenal challenge. There is a huge amount of work to do in Afghanistan, and I wouldn't want anyone to think we can relax in any way about Afghanistan."
      Julie Pace, Barry Hatton and Robert Burns contributed from Lisbon and Rahim Faiez contributed from Kabul.
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