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NATO chief seeks to tackle Afghan security challenge
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He noted that those who want to destabilize Afghanistan are the people who are killing NATO forces and destabilizing Pakistan and much large part of the world.

"More than ever," Scheffer said, a regional approach is needed for trying to stall the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.

Visiting NATO secretary general Jaapde Hoop Scheffer said Thursday here a regional approach is

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (L) and Afghan President Hamid Karzai attend a news conference in Kabul July 24, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo) 

Despite a presence of over 70,000 foreign troops including the NATO forces and a separate US-led Coalition troops, Afghanistan has still been in the grip of Taliban-led insurgency, six and half years after a US-led invasion toppled the hard-line Taliban regime.

NATO officials admitted there was an increase of militant attacks during the past months of this year especially in June. Both May and June saw higher monthly US military deaths in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

The United States Democratic presidential aspirant Barack Obama promised long-term support to Afghanistan during a Sunday meeting with President Karzai in Kabul.

Obama has said US focus should be shifted to Afghanistan, the central front of war on terrorism and proposed reinforcements of two US brigades, totally around 7,000 troops, to the central Asian country.

Insurgency and clashes last year claimed over 8,000 lives in Afghanistan, a record high.

Scheffer, while reconfirming the NATO's long-term commitment to Afghanistan, Thursday also said the NATO is doing its best to prevent from causing civilian casualties in fighting Taliban militants, who often use women and children as "human shields" when engaging NATO forces.

The military alliance "will leave no stone untouched to prevent as much as we can the loss of any civilian innocent Afghan life," Scheffer said.

According to UN figures, some 698 Afghan civilians died in the first half of year 2008, of which 422 were killed by anti-government elements and 255 were killed by Afghan government or international military forces.

(Xinhua News Agency July 25, 2008)

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