LONDON - NATO's secretary-general said on Wednesday he expected the alliance to provide more resources for training Afghan troops and police, but would not comment on exact troop numbers.
We need to train more Afghan soldiers and more Afghan police, so I would expect allies to provide more resources for our training mission in Afghanistan, Anders Fogh Rasmussen told BBC radio before meeting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Thursday.
When asked if that would involve NATO members sending more troops, he said no decisions had been taken yet. But he said there was a need for personnel and funds to fully equip the training mission for a smooth transition to Afghans.
U.S. President Barack Obama is still considering a call from the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, for tens of thousands more soldiers.
NATO's Afghan mission currently involves 65,000 U.S. troops and 39,000 from allied nations, including 9,000 from Britain.
NATO has also asked other countries to increase their contribution despite growing public discontent with the rising death toll.
Brown has said he is considering sending a further 500 troops, if Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai meets certain conditions following his fraud-tainted re-election.
When asked if Britain could be asked to provide even more troops, Rasmussen said he thought it was premature to present exact figures now. We are right now in an intense consultation phase among the 28 NATO allies together with the 15 additional ISAF troop contributors.
Countries are speaking bilaterally with each other, and very soon we will make decisions on exact figures.
He also deflected questions about a possible exit strategy, saying again it was premature to provide an exact timetable.
But actually NATO and ISAF allies have agreed on a framework for transition to Afghan elite and in the very near future we will start the concrete planning and I would not be surprised if the first handovers could take place as early as next year, he said.
(Reporting by Avril Ormsby)