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NATO General Downplays Afghan Insurgency Threat


NATO's military commander says the Taleban and al-Qaida are not capable of restarting a major insurgency in Afghanistan, and he adds that they will be defeated if they make any move against allied forces in Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine General James Jones, who visited Afghanistan last week, says NATO forces in Afghanistan are ready to respond to hostile action by insurgents, tribal leaders or anyone else.

Militants' attacks have been increasing in Afghanistan recently, with almost daily reports of new violence.

An Afghan engineer working for the United Nations was shot dead in a western province, and security forces in the same area thwarted a bomb attack. Afghan authorities who reported the incidents Monday say Taleban insurgents were responsible.

General Jones was speaking to reporters at the Pentagon Monday about his recent tour of Afghanistan and the NATO alliance's growing role in peacekeeping efforts there.

NATO forces now have security responsibilities in northern and western Afghanistan, but their operations are expected to expand throughout the country by the end of this year.

The American general says Afghanistan's new army is playing a growing role in both stability and counter-terrorism operations, but other aspects of development in the wartorn nation are lagging, including the government's ability to deliver services to the people nationwide. Helping with such efforts is part of NATO's mission, General Jones says, and he adds that alliance members must realize it will not be just a one or two-year effort.