The NATO alliance agreed on Wednesday to hold onto its broad geographic layout of bases in Afghanistan, a move that could make it easier for the United States to keep more troops there as Kabul struggles with a resurgent Taliban threat.
President Barack Obama has planned to slash the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan from about 9,800 to 5,500 before he leaves office in 2017, despite calls from former commanders and envoys to halt the drawdown.
NATO defense ministers gathered in Brussels signaled a willingness to stay, with Britain’s Michael Fallon saying flatly at a news conference: “This is the wrong time to walk away from Afghanistan.”
He warned that any collapse of the country would send thousands more migrants heading to Europe at a time when the continent already faces uncontrolled migration flows.
Fallon said U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the ministers during closed-door talks that U.S. troop levels were again being reviewed.
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Time For Truth: (Reuters) – NATO approves keeping expanded Afghan basing, in nod to long fight