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NATO defence ministers discuss Afghan troop deal

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NATO defence ministers discuss Afghan troop deal
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NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels are discussing – among other things – how many US soldiers and bases will remain in Afghanistan after most foreign combat troops leave at the end of next year.

US and NATO officials have said they are confident the Afghan parliament will give them the green light to allow a number of soldiers to stay after 2014.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he believes an agreement will be reached as without one, NATO would not be allowed to send troops.

On his way into the meeting, German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizie said his counterparts were waiting for confirmation from Washington of details of the operation: “We are waiting for the US decision on the dimension and scale of the American soldiers operation in Afghanistan.”

“Our judgement will depend upon their decisions. We have suggested some proposals, but we need some clarity about the rights and the duties of our soldiers,” he added.

The NATO defence ministers have also been discussing a German cost-cutting plan for closer military integration.

They want economically larger countries to take charge of smaller NATO allies. The Germans believe that this way funds and resources would be better used with costs being shared for expensive military systems.

The proposal has been welcomed by NATO and by Britain, but the French are wary on the basis that it could undermine some countries’ sovereignty.