BRUSSELS, April 18 (Xinhua) -- NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday urged NATO countries and partners to fund the Afghan army and police after the alliance's planned withdrawal at the end of 2014.
"A figure has been mentioned that a long-term sustainable size of the Afghan security forces will be equivalent to a bill of around 4 billion U.S. dollars a year ... No formal final decisions have been made yet, but it is a good planning basis because this figure has been endorsed by the Afghans and the international community," Rasmussen said after the first session of NATO defense and foreign ministers' meeting.
"I would urge allies and partners to commit themselves to an overall framework for financing the Afghan security forces," he said.
The two-day gathering of NATO ministers is a preparatory meeting for the alliance's strategic Chicago summit to be held on May 20. Rasmussen said that ministers would debate the size, structure and cost of the Afghan security forces, but no "concrete announcements" were expected.
NATO is gradually handing over security responsibility to Afghan forces and will withdraw combat troops from the country by the end of 2014. However, the transition process has been questioned due to relentless attacks by Taliban militants.
The number of the Afghan force is going to reach 352,000 later this year. However, after 2014, the number is expected to dip to about 250,000, with a price of 4.1 billion dollars annually. While the United States doesn't want to foot the whole bill, Washington is pressing its European allies to pay about 1.3 billion dollars.
In addition, NATO is expecting other nations with a stake in Afghanistan's security and stability to share the burden.
"NATO will pay its fair share. But a stable Afghanistan is in the interest of the whole international community, so I urge everyone to play their part," Rasmussen said.