NATO aims to maintain about 12,000 troops in Afghanistan next year

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NATO is planning to keep about 12,000 troops in Afghanistan next year, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday, despite earlier plans to downsize the force.

NATO had initially planned to have a smaller, civilian-led presence take over from its Resolute Support training and advisory mission.

But questions about whether the military alliance would proceed with its plans emerged in September after Taliban fighters temporarily overran the northern city of Kunduz.

“We will … make final decisions, but what we are aiming at [now] is to keep approximately the same force level, around 12,000 troops, also through 2016,” Stoltenberg said.

“Almost half of them will be non-US troops, and the rest will be US troops,” he said while also noting that the soldiers will be in Kabul and have a “regional presence.”

NATO foreign ministers are due to discuss the alliance’s future role in Afghanistan Tuesday at the start of a two-day meeting in Brussels.

NATO currently has about 13,000 troops in Afghanistan.

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