WASHINGTON - Afghanistan was intensively discussed at a recent NATO ministerial meeting in Berlin, where member nations expressed broad support for intensifying diplomatic surge for an Afghan-led political settlement, a top US official said.
"On Afghanistan, allies affirmed the transition principles and expressed broad support for intensifying what we've been calling the diplomatic surge towards an Afghan-led political settlement," the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs said.
Philip Gordon told Washington-based foreign journalists the meeting was attended by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The media coverage of the gathering was on the developments in Libya, but Gordon said Afghanistan was thoroughly discussed.
Afghanistan was obviously a major issue for NATO, he said, adding there was a three-hour session for all NATO allies plus partners in the Afghanistan mission. "It, I think, brings the total to some 47, plus the European Union and the UN and other organisations that are involved. So it remains a critical priority for the alliance and for the United States."
Gordon said Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, briefed participants by video from Kabul and assessed the military situation on the ground and noted challenges, as well as real progress that they had made."I think in terms of withdrawing or winding down, we've also been clear that the United States and NATO allies intend to proceed very carefully, starting in the summer, with troop withdrawals, but we'll be obviously watching closely the situation on the ground to make sure that the investments we've made in Afghanistan are not undermined by any precipitous withdrawals," Gordon remarked.