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NATO Leaders Agree on Secretary-General, Afghanistan


Leaders of the 28 NATO countries have named Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the new Alliance secretary-general and agreed on a common policy toward Afghanistan.

NATO's outgoing Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced the accord on his successor, noting that Turkey dropped its objections to Mr. Rasmussen.

He also said the leaders, meeting in Strasbourg, agreed to send additional forces, including those expected to help train Afghan units. He said the new troops will also assist the Afghans in preparing for elections scheduled for later this year.

U.S officials say this will involve about 5,000 additional troops.

NATO also urged Afghan leaders to guarantee the full rights of women despite new legislation that many see as restricting such rights.

The secretary-general said the summit agreed to use the NATO-Russia Council to maintain ties and discuss differences with the Russians. The leaders also directed work on a new strategic concept for the alliance.

Earlier French President Nicolas Sarkozy formally announced his country's full return to NATO's military command after a 40-year break.

Leaders of newly-admitted members Albania and Croatia formally took their seats at the meeting, as President Barack Obama stressed that the alliance remains open to other candidates.

Earlier, the leaders joined Chancellor Merkel and other heads of state and government on the German side of the Rhine River for a symbolic walk across a bridge leading into France. The leaders were joined halfway by President Sarkozy coming from the French side.

The summit marked the alliance's 60th anniversary.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.


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