Afghanistan, missile defense to top agenda at NATO meeting

08:06, June 11, 2010      

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NATO defense ministers began a two-day meeting here Thursday, with the alliance's mission in Afghanistan, missile defense and spending efficiency topping the agenda.

Opening the meeting, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said nations contributing to the Afghan mission would meet Friday to discuss training Afghan security forces and the transition to Afghan control.

"Tomorrow, with all the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) contributors, we will see how to step up training efforts even further, to set a strong foundation for transition to Afghan lead," he said.

On missile defense, Fogh Rasmussen said alliance experts had confirmed it was "technically feasible" to cover not only over deployed troops, but also populations at home.

"The extra costs are manageable: less than 200 million Euros over 10 years, spread among the 28 allies," he said, adding a decision was expected to be made at NATO's Lisbon summit in November.

The NATO chief also urged member nations to spend "enough and smart" on defense at a time when many of the members are facing mounting pressure to slash defense budgets amid the economic downtown.

"Today we will take a hard look at prioritising, economising and multinationalising," he said. "Prioritising on what we need most, in particular deployable capability. Economising, by cutting back on concrete and on bureaucracy. And multinationalising, to pool our money where it makes sense to get capabilities we need, and that we wouldn't otherwise be able to afford."

The NATO defense ministers are also expected to meet their counterparts from Ukraine and Georgia during the two-day meeting.



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