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No decision on number of troop after 2014: Nato

27 November, 2012

KABUL: Giving an exact number of the NATO-led troops staying in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when the combat mission is scheduled to end, will be premature, an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman said on Monday.

Brig. Gen. Günter Katz told a media briefing in Kabul that some news organisations had cited certain figures in this regard, but he was unable to confirm the numbers at this point in time.

A day earlier, a US newspaper reported that around 10,000 American troops were likely to stay in Afghanistan after combat soldiers left the country.

The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed Obama administration officials as saying the plan was in accordance with ISAF Commander Gen. John Allen's recommendations. He has suggested a force between 6,000 and 15,000 US troops.

According to the report, the force will conduct training and counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, where about 67,000 US troops are currently deployed, after the NATO mission concludes.

But the ISAF spokesman said: "I've also read some reports about the foreign military presence in Afghanistan after 2014, but the figures quoted there are different. What is being reported in this context is premature."

Pressed to give the number of foreign troops who would advise, train and support Afghan forces, Katz said that NATO would take a decision at a meeting on the issue in Brussels next year.

In response to a query, the German brigadier-general said that they were in the process of handing over some of ISAF bases to Afghan forces.

Of the 400 ISAF bases across the country, 250 have been transferred to Afghans so far. A commission, led by the finance ministry, will decide the fate of the remaining military centres.

Katz explained some equipment, barring weapons and aircraft, on the bases would also be turned over to Afghan security personnel.

End.

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