Madrid: NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen
vowed to keep the alliance`s troops in Afghanistan for the
time needed to finish its mission, in an interview with a
Spanish newspaper published on Sunday.
"Defeat is not an option, we will win. The Taliban
will never win, nor will they return to power. Never will we
allow al Qaeda to have refuge Afghanistan," the newspaper ABC
quoted Rasmussen as saying in its Spanish translation.
He said NATO`s International Security and Assistance
Forces (ISAF) were making progress and that al Qaeda no longer
has a sure refuge in Afghanistan, the newspaper said.
He noted that al Qaeda and its ally the Taliban were
under pressure especially in their strongholds of Helmund
province and Kandahar.
Rasmussen also stressed that Western forces would not
withdraw from Afghanistan in 2011, but undertake a gradual
process of transferring responsibility for maintaining
security to the Afghans as conditions allow.
On his first official visit to Spain since taking over
as head of NATO, he was to use the occasion to ask coalition
members, especially Spain which has committed around 1,500
troops, to send more forces to help training tasks.
NATO considers the training of the Afghan army and
police as a crucial element before the eventual withdrawal of
The US and NATO have deployed 150,000 troops to
Afghanistan to combat a violent insurgency which begun just
after the 2001 fall of the Taliban regime.