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NATO welcomes Obama’s decision to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to keep nearly 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan through most of next year, adding that the move maintains any gains made in a volatile environment.

In a statement released on Thursday, Stoltenberg said: “This important decision paves the way for a sustained presence by NATO Allies and partners in Afghanistan. It demonstrates the continued commitment by NATO Allies and our partners towards Afghanistan.”

Stoltenberg added that the alliance will decide in the coming weeks about the future of the Resolute Support Mission, which was formerly known as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). “The significant U.S. contribution will be an important factor as we consider the way ahead,” he said.

The secretary general added: “The Afghan security forces continue to carry out their security responsibilities across the country, in a very challenging environment. So it's crucial that we continue to support them, practically and financially, to preserve the gains we have achieved in Afghanistan through our joint efforts over many years.”

Under the plan announced by Obama on Thursday, the nearly 10,000 American troops currently in Afghanistan will remain there through most of next year. Some 5,500 troops will stay beyond 2016.

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