( NATO ) - Defence Ministers from 26 NATO countries and the 11 non-NATO countries supporting NATO's mission in Afghanistan reaffirmed their determination to stay the course in Afghanistan at a meeting in Brussels, 15 June.
NATO's mission was the focus of the second day of a NATO Defence Ministers meeting, with the Afghan Defence Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, and representatives of non-NATO troop contributing countries taking part.
"With your support and help Afghanistan has been delivered from the ashes of destruction, tyranny and decades of civil war," said Minister Wardak, "Now we have hope for a bright future."
The need to do more to train and equip the Afghan National Army was stressed, and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters a number of countries volunteered to send additional mentoring and liaison teams.
"We are not there yet," Mr. De Hoop Scheffer told reporters, "We do need more training teams to keep up the pace."
Ministers also discussed specific measures to reduce casualties among civilians as a result of NATO's actions.
This includes strict implementation of rules of engagement, better coordination with US-led forces, timely investigations of incidents, as well as post-humanitarian relief funds for families and communities that have been affected by NATO actions.
"But I say once again, NATO-ISAF does not indiscriminately kill people. That's what the Taliban does, roadside bombs, suicide bombers, they make by far the most civilian casualties," stressed the NATO Secretary General, "We do everything to prevent that from happening."
"The bottom line is this: 37 NATO-ISAF countries will stay the course," he added, "For all of us Afghanistan is really that long-term commitment."
The Secretary General also stressed that there was a need to step civil and military cooperation in support of Afghan reconstruction.