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Panetta Says Afghanistan Tops NATO Conference Agenda

Photo: Defense.gov

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday a primary focus of NATO‘s defense ministers conference this week will be how to fund Afghanistan’s police and army forces.

Panetta said in a press conference the ministers will also discuss a timeline to withdraw NATO troops from Afghanistan, according to AFPS.

The group previously agreed upon a strategy at NATO’s November 2010 summit in Lisbon, Portugal that called for Afghan forces to take more of a lead role in security.

Pannetta said this transition, which was scheduled to take place by 2014, will be complete by mid-to-late 2013.

“About 50 percent of the population of Afghanistan will now be under Afghan governance and security,” Panetta said. “That’s an important step.”

Forces will shift from a combat focus to a security and advisory role, according to AFPS.

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