NATO leaders to offer continued training, aid to Afghanistan

NATO leaders were set Saturday to prolong their support for Afghanistan, by offering continued military training and financial assistance to the conflict-plagued country.

"We are committed to assisting the Afghan forces to secure their country and to ensure it never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorism," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week before the leaders gathered in Warsaw for a summit.

The Western military alliance is expected to extend its Resolute Support mission, which trains and advises Afghan security forces, to the end of 2017.

Several participating nations had initially planned to whittle down their presence in Afghanistan this year. But continuing Taliban violence prompted a rethink, especially after the insurgents managed to temporarily overrun the northern provincial capital of Kunduz last year.

US President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that his country will leave 8,400 troops in Afghanistan into next year, slowing its planned drawdown. He said the security situation remains "precarious."

Around 13,000 troops from 39 countries are currently taking part in Resolute Support, including just under 1,000 soldiers from Germany.

The NATO leaders are also expected to continue financing the Afghan security forces to the end of 2020, to the tune of about 4 billion dollars a year.

Also Saturday, the leaders will decide on granting support to the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State extremist group, through the deployment of NATO surveillance planes near Syria and a return of NATO military trainers to Iraq.

The leaders will also consider cooperation with the European Union on curbing migrant smuggling in the Mediterranean Sea, and hold talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Poroshenko is scheduled to hold a separate meeting on the crisis in his country with Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi after the Warsaw summit ends.

Last update: Sat, 09/07/2016 - 11:56

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