NATO leaders discuss cost of Afghanistan exit
NATO ministers are gathering in Brussels for two days of talks on how to fund Afghan security forces after the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan in 2014.
The meeting will prepare the ground for a NATO summit in the United States next month which will map out a pullout plan for troops.
NATO expects Afghan security forces to grow to 352,000 soldiers and police officers this year but the future size is under discussion.
One of the issues to be resolved is the cost of maintaining Afghan forces, estimated to be $US4.1 billion per year, and who will foot the bill.
NATO leaders agreed in November 2010 to gradually hand over security to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.
But a series of violent incidents in Afghanistan has shaken Western public support for the operations, and individual allies have announced earlier-than-expected withdrawals.
On Tuesday Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the government will bring the majority of Australian troops home in 2013.