Krakow, Feb. 19 (ANI): A defense ministers' meet in Krakow, Poland on Thursday witnessed a number of concerns and difficulties expressed by gathered members of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was heading the two-day gathering, even said that he had largely given up hope that NATO countries would be willing to commit more troops to Afghanistan.
Instead, Gates said he would stress the need for help later this spring and summer to counter militants and improve security for planned elections there, something NATO officials have already said would require 10,000 reinforcements.
"I hope that it may be easier for our allies to do that than significant troop increases," Gates said, who floated the idea of more non-military expansion, such as training Afghan police and deterring opium growers.
Besides the need to enhance security before this summer's electoral campaign, NATO allies will also be expected to provide more financial assistance to the cash-strapped government in Kabul and to supply additional military equipment to the Afghan army.
Ministers also discussed issues such as relations with Russia, efforts to streamline the Alliance's command structure, and modification of its doctrine to encompass operations such as the anti-piracy patrols off the Somali coast.
"A lot of NATO countries, including Poland, are convinced that the alliance's strategy needs to be revised," Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said.
The meeting in Krakow coincides with intense diplomatic efforts to secure new supply routes for the NATO forces in landlocked Afghanistan, as an alternative for current corridors through Pakistan, which has become insecure due to increasing Taliban attack.
Russia is a key transit route for overland logistics lines, and the new US administration has acted quickly to relieve Bush-era tensions with Moscow sparked by Kosovo's declaration of independence, the Russia-Georgia war and by plans to set up a US missile shield in Eastern Europe. (ANI)