NATO leaders are in Lisbon for a two-day summit dominated by the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan although, behind the scenes, there are worries the 2014 target date may be thwarted by a growing Taliban threat.
The summit is expected to consider a more-concrete exit strategy, driven by weakening public support at home and Afghan demands that foreign troops leave as soon as possible.
The alliance now hopes to move to a training and support role, progressively handing over day-to-day security to local forces. But the leaders admit the worsening security situation could change things.
One NATO official in Kabul even forecast what he called ‘eye-watering levels of violence’ in the future.
Our correspondent at the summit, Miguel Sardo, says: “As expected, Afghanistan will be top of the agenda at this NATO summit. The American Defense Secretary has said that they will not be announcing an exit strategy but a transition strategy. However, the big question is: what will be happening in Afghanistan after 2014.”