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Afghan security funding on NATO agenda

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Afghan security funding on NATO agenda
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NATO defence ministers have been discussing how to pay for Afghanistan’s security forces once they take over from the alliance in 2014.

The estimated cost will top 4.5 billion euros a year, a sum beyond the means of one of the world’s poorest nations.

It is unlikely a final decision will emerge before NATO’s summit in Chicago in May.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a news conference: “It’s very easy to make the case that for the whole of the international community, it is a very good deal to finance a credible Afghan security force (rather) than to deploy international forces in Afghanistan.”

Austerity budget cuts have made it difficult to reach agreement on future funding.

The two-day summit in Brussels heard Rasmussen reaffirm the previously agreed plan to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The French president Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that French troops will pull out a year before then.