Afghanistan and the timing of a military withdrawal was on the agenda at NATO headquarters. Foreign and defence ministers will be aiming to narrow their differences as more allies prepare to bring their forces home early.
Sunday’s attack by the Taliban on Kabul’s diplomatic district – which was described by President Karzai as an intelligence failure by international forces – has heightened concerns on what could happen should the 2014 withdrawal date be brought forward. Australia has already signalled its intention for an early exit.
NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes the Afghan forces are ready.
“We have really now seen in practice the Afghan security forces dealing in a very professional way with security challenges. I am now very confident,” he said.
The two-day meeting will pave the way for the summit in May when the future shape of the alliance will be discussed as Thomas de Maizière the German Defence Minister explained: “This meeting of foreign and defence ministers is about preparing for the NATO summit in Chicago. We’ll also talk about the capability-profile and look at the question on what we can to better together in the future.”
Euronews correspondent Andrei Beketov in Brussels said: “Ministers are satisfied with the cooperation over Libya and believe Europe is now safer. However Nato is worried about the threat reappearing from the East if the withdrawal from Afghanistan leaves conflict in its wake.”
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