4 Aug 2009

NATO to stay in Afghanistan as long as necessary

6:06 am on 4 August 2009

The new head of NATO says international troops will stay in Afghanistan for as long as necessary.

Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday that NATO Nato must prevent Afghanistan from "becoming again a grand central station of international terrorism".

Mr Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister, replaces Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who repeatedly warned that efforts to subdue the Taliban in Afghanistan remained the alliance's greatest challenge.

He wants NATO to reach its potential to be a pillar of global security and also says forging closer relations with Russia is vital.

Mr Rasmussen said there was "a lot at stake", both internationally and for NATO in Afghanistan, and warned that reinforcements might be needed.

As of June 2009, there were more than 61,000 personnel from 42 different countries including the United States, European countries, Australia, Jordan and New Zealand.

The largest contributing nations are the US and Britain. The BBC reports they provide about 28,850 and 8,300 troops respectively.