NATO insisted on Tuesday that its plans
for a 2014 withdrawal of foreign combat troops from Afghanistan had not changed, after Britain's Guardian newspaper reported the military alliance's chief had suggested so in an exclusive interview, DPA reported.
'Guardian quoted NATO Secretary General (Anders Fogh Rasmussen)
out of context. No change in strategy or timeline,' spokeswoman Oana
Lungescu wrote on the micro-blogging website Twitter.
The Guardian story, which ran under the headline 'NATO withdrawal
from Afghanistan could be speeded up, says Rasmussen,' was quickly
picked up by other media.
In it, the NATO chief is quoted as saying that 'from now until the
end of 2014 you may see adaptation of our presence.'
'Our troops can redeploy, take on other tasks, or even withdraw,
or we can reduce the number of foreign troops,' he said. 'If the
security situation allows, I would not exclude the possibility that
in certain areas you could accelerate the process.'
Lungescu argued that Rasmussen was referring to the 'gradual
drawdown' that has long been planned, since NATO troops can not be
pulled out all at once at the end of 2014.