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NATO ministers mull Afghan drawdown

BRUSSELS (iBBC News) — NATO defense ministers will discuss possible changes to the alliance's strategy in Afghanistan after the U.S. and France called for speeding up the handover of combat roles to local forces.

Both U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and French President President Nicolas Sarkozy have suggested that the coalition should end its combat role in 2013, more than a year ahead of plans adopted at NATO's last summit in Lisbon.

The ministerial meeting comes a day after a secret NATO report was leaked to the media suggesting that insurgent morale remains extremely high after more than a decade of war and that the Taliban remain confident they will defeat the coalition.

The meeting of defense ministers will pave the way for an alliance summit in Chicago in May.
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