Nato has agreed a new strategy to hand over security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces by 2015.
At a summit in Portugal, the 28-member alliance backed plans to withdraw all combat troops by then, and signed a transition deal with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
However, thousands of Nato troops will remain in a training-support capacity.
NATO chief, Anders Fagh Rasmussen said: “Trainers are the ticket to transition. President Karzai and I have signed an agreement on a long term partnership between NATO and Afghanistan that wil endure beyond our combat mission. To put it simply if the Taliban or anyone else aims to wait us out they can forget it. We will stay as long as it takes to finsh our job.”
NATO is keen not to label the new deal an exit strategy, but the fixing of a target date for withdrawing troops will please members and President Karzai alike.
The rising death toll means many nations are keen to bring their soldiers home.
As for Karzai, he has expressed increasing frustration lately with NATO’s tactics which he claims, far from containing the insurgency are driving many Afghans into the arms of the Taliban.