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NATO Open To Keeping More Troops In Afghanistan At U.S. Urging

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg chairs a NATO defense ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels on October 8

NATO is open to keeping more troops in Afghanistan than initially planned after 2016, defense ministers said after after a meeting in Brussels on October 8.

"I sense that many allies are willing to stay longer if needed," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

Although Afghan forces have recaptured the strategic northern city of Kunduz, its brief fall to the Taliban last month underscored concerns about the capabilities of NATO-trained Afghanistan's security forces.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter had urged allies at the meeting to consider maintaining higher troop levels to provide more time for training Afghan forces. He said afterward that "a number of countries today indicated a willingness to change their plans and posture."

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said "we'll need to look at how we go forward and whether we should stay longer."

Under the current plan, the United States would reduce its troop levels to 1,000 after 2016, but that is under review, with Carter and the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, pushing for a larger military presence.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters