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`Taliban onslaught won`t change Afghan transition`

NATO insisted that a wave of coordinated Taliban attacks in Afghanistan will not influence alliance plans to withdraw foreign combat troops by 2014.



Brussels: NATO on Monday insisted that a wave of coordinated Taliban attacks in Afghanistan will not influence alliance plans to withdraw foreign combat troops by 2014.

"Clearly we still face security challenges," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu told a news briefing. "This was not the first such attack and I do not expect it to be the last."

"But such attacks don`t change the transition strategy, they don`t change the goal and they don`t change the timeline that we all agreed to at the Lisbon summit in November 2010," she said.

NATO leaders agreed in Lisbon to gradually hand over security responsibility to Afghan security forces with the aim of completing the transition by the end of 2014.

The Taliban staged a series of attacks yesterday and overnight in Kabul and three other provinces, resulting in the death of 36 insurgents, eight members of the Afghan security forces and three civilians.

But NATO officials have praised the response of Afghan soldiers who are being trained to take over the lead from 1,30,000 foreign troops.

"The progress is impressive. Afghan special forces are professional, they`re competent and they`re fully committed to keeping their country secure," Lungescu said.

"And we saw that commitment and that ability over the weekend. We saw that in action," she said, adding that while the attacks "grabbed the headlines" they did not cause mass casualties.

"They dealt with the situation, they defeated the attacks and they did it largely on their own." (AFP)

PTI

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