NATO's Secretary-General praised U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan for showing "remarkable restraint" in the face of violence following the burning of Muslim holy books at a NATO base, the Associated Press reported.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark told a NATO seminar in Washington that Gen. John Allen, the top allied commander in Afghanistan, was right to withdraw all allied advisers from Afghan government ministries after two U.S. officers were killed in their offices on Saturday.
"Despite the challenges of this incident and the challenges we face, we must not lose sight of our goal: a stable Afghanistan," Fogh Rasmussen said. "Troops from the U.S.-led international military coalition "are showing remarkable restraint and professionalism under very difficult circumstances."
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Fogh Rasmussen's comments ahead of a May NATO summit which is expected to shed light on the West's course out of Afghanistan, Reuters reported. After more than 10 years of war, the Taliban still pose a major threat to the government's stability and President Hamid Karzai remains weak.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also defended the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, this time before the Senate, She said the United States went into Afghanistan "for a very clear purpose" after the Sept. 11 attacks and that Obama has set the country on a path to leave.
"This is not an endless commitment that will take lives far into the future," Clinton told the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations.
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The NATO chief echoed the Obama administration's stay-the-course message on Afghanistan.
"We will not allow the extremists to weaken our resolve," Fogh Rasmussen said. "We will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Afghan partners... We are in Afghanistan to build stability and security."
He said the withdrawal of advisers is temporary and will not effect the timeline for a pull out from the country by the end of 2014.