Nato Will Not Leave Afghanistan Despite Defence Cuts
 
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Nato Thursday released its annual report in Brussels saying that it will not allow Afghanistan to become the save haven of insurgents, even as it flagged serious gaps in defence spending from its partner countries.

In the first part of the report which addresses Afghanistan, Nato is optimistic about the future of the country saying its strategy in Afghanistan will not change and the mobilisation and support of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will continue.

However, Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen released the report saying that defence spending among the allies is increasingly uneven, not just between North America and Europe, but also among European allies.

"If these spending trends continue, we could find ourselves facing three serious gaps that would place Nato's military capacity and political credibility at risk in the years to come," he said.

Rasmussen said the main risk was that "while some European allies will continue to acquire modern and deployable defence capabilities, others might find it increasingly difficult to do so," adding that no country will be safe without investment in defence.

Nevertheless, the confidence of the 28-member coalition in the Afghan mission remains strong, according to the report.

It said that 23 out of 34 provinces are under the security lead of ANSF - representing about 78 percent of the country's population.

Furthermore, in first nine months of 2012, terrorist attacks declined in areas where most of the Afghan population lives, notably 22 percent in Kabul, 62 percent in Kandahar, 13 percent in Herat and 88 percent in Mazar-e-Sharif.

The report said that 80 percent of the insurgent's attacks happened in the places where 20 percent of the population lives and while insurgents launched a number of spectacular attacks in the capital, most of these were rapidly contained.

The report also noted that during 2012, some 5600 opposition fighters joined the government peace and reconciliation programme.

Looking ahead, Nato is optimistic that it will reach the required 120,000 extra ANSF personnel needed over the next two years. It said that after 2014, the decision of whether to increase or decrease these total numbers forces will belong to the Afghanistan Government, while Nato will continue to train and support them.

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