Senior British diplomat Paddy Ashdown says defeat is a real possibility in Afghanistan, unless NATO changes its strategy.

In an article published Wednesday in Britain's Financial Times, Ashdown notes the upsurge in Taliban-related violence and says public support for the Afghan mission is waning among NATO countries.

Ashdown says to make progress in Afghanistan, NATO must improve security by winning over moderates and convincing ordinary Afghans their government can provide better security than Taliban insurgents.

Ashdown also says there should be a greater focus on strengthening the Afghan government and rule of law, in a country where corruption and lawlessness is growing.

Ashdown, the former U.N. representative to Bosnia, was rejected last month by Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the post of U.N. envoy to Afghanistan.

Separately, Italy's defense ministry says an Italian soldier was killed and another wounded in an attack Wednesday outside the Afghan capital, Kabul. Officials say the troops were fired upon by insurgents, as they carried out civilian and military activities in the area.

Also today, at least three Afghan soldiers were killed and three wounded when their convoy hit a roadside bomb in the Musa Qala district of the Afghanistan's southern Helmand province.

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