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Secretary Plans to Attend NATO Meetings in Brussels

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2013 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta departs tomorrow for Brussels, where he will attend a series of meetings with NATO defense ministers and other leaders, Pentagon officials said.

The secretary's two days of meetings in Belgium will be his fifth and final time leading a delegation to NATO headquarters, officials said. The key meeting this week will involve discussion of troop adjustments in Afghanistan as forces draw down, officials said.

Representatives from the International Security Assistance Force will also discuss support to Afghanistan after 2014, officials said, when Afghan forces will have assumed full responsibility for their nation's security.

Officials noted this will be a key meeting for discussions on Afghanistan, as the ministerial follows closely on President Barack Obama's announcement during his State of the Union address Feb. 12 that 34,000 American troops will be home from the country by this time next year.

The secretary is also expected to have bilateral discussions with several allies on the margins of the meeting, officials said.


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