NATO Chief: Troops Show ‘Remarkable Restraint’ in Afghanistan

Posted February 29th, 2012 at 1:50 am (UTC-5)
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NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has praised coalition forces in Afghanistan for showing what he called remarkable “restraint and professionalism” in the face of anti-coalition violence following the burning of copies of the Quran on a U.S. military base.

During a NATO seminar in Washington Tuesday, Rasmussen said that despite the wave of violent protests across the country that left four U.S. troops dead, the coalition must continue working to ensure stability in Afghanistan.

“We will not allow these extremists to weaken our resolve. We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Afghan partners, and we will not lose sight of our shared goal. We are in Afghanistan to build stability and security for the Afghan people, which is in the interest of our own security.”

The NATO chief said he also supports the decision by the top allied commander in Afghanistan, U.S. General John Allen, to withdraw all advisers from Afghan government ministries after the shooting death of two U.S. officers in their offices Saturday.

Rasmussen said the attacks do not reflect a lack of large-scale cooperation between NATO forces and Afghan security forces.

“Let me remind you that 130,000 ISAF troops work on a daily basis together with more than 300,000 Afghan security forces. And the overall picture is a cooperation characterized by trust and confidence.”

The U.S. Embassy has been in lockdown since the violent demonstrations erupted last week. It has warned of a “heightened” threat to Americans in Afghanistan.

The United Nations also said it would relocate its staff from an office in northern Kunduz province, after it came under attack from angry protesters Saturday and that additional measures will be put in place to “ensure the office can continue to operate in safety.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and top U.S. military officials have apologized for the desecration of the Quran. Media reports have suggested that U.S. troops attempted to burn the Muslim holy books after detainees at Bagram Air Base used them to pass extremist messages.