Weekly press briefing

by NATO Spokesperson James Appathurai

  • 09 Jun. 2009 -
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  • Last updated: 10 Jun. 2009 12:40

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesperson): Friends… let us start. Thank you all for coming. I'll briefly run through for you the agenda and what I think will be the main topics for the Defence Ministers' meeting that will take place this Thursday and Friday, and then I'm happy to take your questions.

Let me briefly do the… simply the programme which many of you have already. There's the working lunch, starts at 1300, then the EAPC Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Defence Planning Committee, Nuclear Planning Group, all of that to take place and then a working dinner, all to take place on Thursday. And then another NAC session, a ceremony together with troop-contributing partners for unveiling of a monument in memory of those who have fallen in NATO operations. This is all in the programme. And then a meeting with non-NATO ISAF contributing nations. Let me go through each of these in a little bit more detail.

The meetings on June 11th will start with, as I mentioned, a working lunch. It will be devoted to operational issues, with a particular focus on Kosovo and counter-piracy. Why? Because Afghanistan of course will be dealt with substantially in the ISAF meeting to take place the next day. As you will have seen, in quotes from unnamed officials, Ministers will take stock of the overall progress achieved on the ground in Kosovo, particularly regarding the security situation, which of course sets the conditions for KFOR's size and force posture. There will be a discussion on a possible move by KFOR towards a deterrent presence. The word is deterrent presence. Any decision, and no decision has been taken yet, on a move to a deterrent presence will be made on the basis of political as well as military assessments, with the political considerations of course coming first. The necessary… the military conditions being of course necessary but not sufficient. Ministers will assess the security situation. Should a decision be taken by Defence Ministers to take forward a move towards a deterrent presence, any transition would be implemented in a gradual and phased manner, with each step being based on military advice, but political decision. Under any circumstances, KFOR will remain in Kosovo, it will remain responsible for a safe and secure environment, under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, as long as necessary. The Alliance… the Alliance's commitment to Kosovo, and the maintenance of a safe and secure environment, remains firm.

I think that's what I wanted to say on Kosovo… do I have everything here? Yes. That's what I wanted to say on that, and we can come back to that…

Q: Can you… Can you just quickly, because you decided to (inaudible) these unnamed officials (inaudible) reduction. They are talking around 5,000 by January 2010, or (inaudible) that the Allies are working with, or…?

JAMES APPURATHAI: I think we'll leave the calendar to… to the Ministerial. What I can say is nothing will happen immediately after… after the discussion on Thursday. If Ministers decide to take forward a move towards deterrent presence, it would then go back to SHAPE and the military authorities would take forward the planning for that, but any further concrete steps through the first let's say gate, the first decision point, would indeed require a political decision, and I cannot predict when that will happen. Okay, so that's that.

Piracy… there will be a discussion of NATO's long-term role in counter-piracy. The current deployment of SNMG-1, the Standing NATO Maritime Group One, which is currently conducting operations off the coast of Somalia is due to come to an end on the 28th of June. There are now discussions as I said on a follow-on mission in terms of the legal arrangements, in terms of force generation. That discussion will… will continue with Defence Ministers on Thursday during the working lunch. The Secretary General will have his press conference at 1540; there will then be a meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and that is of course the group that brings together the twenty-eight NATO members and the twenty-two NATO partners. I say this authoritatively now that I am quite sure about it… about the numbers. The… there are, as you probably know, ten PfP nations participating in NATO-led operations. They contribute about 2,700 personnel to NATO-led operations, and… they of course are very important to us, but to make that cooperation possible we have to encourage inter-operability. We have to train or work together, NATO nations and partners, to ensure that our forces can work together, that they have the language skills, the technical capability to work together, that they have trained and practised together, that they can exchange information when they need to. All of this needs to be stepped up. Put more succinctly, military training and exercises, defence planning, compatible military standards, and NATO's continued assistance to defence reform are in essence the main subjects that will be covered at this EAPC meeting. There will then be the Defence Planning Committee, to which we don't normally draw attention, but it is noteworthy because we will have three new members sitting at the table. Albania and Croatia of course will be participating for the first time in a formal meeting of Defence Ministers in DPC format since the accession of their countries to the Alliance earlier this year. It is also worth noting that Minister Morin will be participating representing France in the DPC for the first time since its decision to fully rejoin… well to take its full place in NATO and in particular in NATO's military structures. I think one of the interesting issues that they will discuss, aside from defence planning, which is very important but probably not necessarily an exciting media story, they will discuss the impact of the current financial environment on… on defence. On operational costs, on transformation costs and how to balance our current requirements with our need to invest in long-term capabilities, in the context of all government ministries I think in every NATO country being under quite significant financial pressure. That is in essence the DPC. Then the working dinner… At the working dinner… yeah… they will also focus on transformational issues, so it'll be more… that will include a discussion of the NATO Response Force. That discussion is not a new one to those of you who follow NATO for a long time. And that discussion is in essence almost theological. What exactly does NATO use the NRF for? There is still a range of views, from one side, or at least from one end of the spectrum there are those who believe that the NRF should be used relatively – well now frequently is the wrong word – but should be used, could be envisioned for example in the context of election support forces. That's not going to be the case now for Afghanistan, but for let's say exceptional requirements, but requirements that can still be foreseen. There are others who believe that the NRF should be kept as the ultimate resource in case of a totally unexpected or extreme contingency. And they have not yet, I think it is only honest to say, reached full consensus amongst Allies as to what exactly the NRF should do and when exactly it should be used. And the Secretary General fully intends to stimulate a discussion on that during the dinner.

Q: (inaudible) tell us a bit about (inaudible) Scheffer's point of view?

JAMES APPATHURAI: No. His point of view is that he would like to see a consensus in NATO on what the NRF is for. But his… as NATO Secretary General, his point of view, or his aim is to get the Allies all singing from the same song sheet. The next morning… Oh, sorry. At the dinner he will also put forward his ideas on headquarters reform, and I've mentioned this to you many times, I won't go into any more detail, only to say that we do seem to actually be getting traction on his ideas to give the Secretary General, and this will of course benefit Anders Fogh Rasmussen more than it benefits Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, more ability to move staff, more freedom to move money within his own budget to better meet the shifting priorities that NATO has on a day-to-day basis.

The morning meeting of the North Atlantic Council will be again a discussion of transformation, all the various issues that need to be discussed. There will then be a ceremony – I mentioned this – together with troop-contributing partners for unveiling of a monument in memory of those who have fallen in NATO operations. I think this… this goes without saying that it will be of course broadcast for you. It doesn't need any explanation. Finally is the ISAF meeting. In that, a number of issues will be discussed. First is progress… First to tell you Afghan Defence Minister Wardak will be there. The head of UNAMA, Kai Eide, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General cannot be there in person, but he will participate I think via a video teleconference. Dr. Solana has already been invited. The issues on the agenda… First, progress on implementation of our comprehensive political… comprehensive strategic political military plan, but let me mention two things in particular. One is ISAF support to the election process. As you know, NATO had committed to providing extra forces for the elections. I think while the final T's remain to be crossed, it is safe to say that we will provide the forces that we had committed to provide. In essence, the eight battalions and enablers necessary to provide, or to play our role in supporting the elections which will take place… well on the 20th of August, but may well include a run-off that takes place at the end of Ramadan, so we are planning for that whole process. I believe the election campaign itself kicks off relatively soon, ie. in the coming week or so. NATO has already worked out an extensive plan with the Afghan authorities and with other international bodies to support the elections, including transporting election materials, including providing – and this is something that needs again to be worked out with them – but we will work out arrangements to provide support to international election observers. And we will provide third tier security, ie. around voting stations, and there will be several thousand voting stations. The first line of security will be the Afghan police, the second line of security will be the Afghan army, and the third line of security will be international forces, NATO-ISAF. This is an Afghan election; it is run according to Afghan plans, Afghan priorities and using Afghan personnel in the first and second layer, and NATO will, ISAF and the rest of the international community will only be providing support. This is very much their show, and we are going to do what we can to support their show. And I think we are in a position to do that, based on the forces that Allies have come forward to provide. We will hopefully provide you more detail at the Ministerial, but I'll wait to see what I can get in terms of clearance for that.

The second issue is the development of the NATO training mission Afghanistan, which should in essence enhance both Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police training efforts by deepening coordination and consistency of approach and bringing in additional resources and expertise. In essence you will see if Allies give their green light at the Defence Ministers' meeting to this model, and they do need to give their green light to this model at the Defence Ministers' meeting. This will be a decision. But if they agree, you will see substantial amounts of the training currently done under the American umbrella move over to a new NATO command for training, so we'll have an expanded role in training armed forces. The training mission Afghanistan will also take on a substantial new role in training police. It will provide greater coordination of bilateral efforts to train the police. It will increase the resources devoted to both… or Allies, sorry, will increase the resources devoted both to the army and to the police, principally through more mentoring and liaison teams, but this will be two types of mentoring and liaison teams now, right. I used to say just OMLTs, there will now also be POMLTs under NATO, that is Police Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams, which will have a substantial paramilitary, to use the North American term, element, gendarmerie element. Similar, in a sense, but only in a sense, to what NATO is providing to the Iraqi armed forces through the NATO training mission in Iraq. There is a difference: that is in Iraq we do not deploy with formed units, we provide higher-level training. In Afghanistan these operational mentoring and liaison teams will deploy with formed units, both police and army. Finally, in that regard, we will be making – the Secretary General will be making – an appeal to… Allies to contribute substantially more to the ANA, Afghan National Army Trust Fund, which as you know has been expanded also to include long-term sustainment costs, which will be relatively substantial.

Finally on Afghanistan there will be discussion of narcotics. There has been substantial progress, and I will give you the numbers, or I will have the Secretary General give you the numbers at the Ministerial, though I have some initial numbers, but there has been substantial progress in taking on those elements in the narcotics industry that are supporting the insurgency. Thousands of kilos of drugs and precursor chemicals have been seized and destroyed, and a substantial number of labs have been destroyed, I think over thirty-five, and a number of traffickers, those who support the… the insurgency have been apprehended. So this will be in essence the main… these will be the main topics of discussion at the ISAF meeting, and then there will be a press conference at two o'clock, and I will finally stop, and I am happy to take your questions, and I am guessing what the first subject will be. Please?

Q: If you decide to reduce the troops, and when you decide to reduce the troops in Kosovo and everyone's decision would be to reduce 5,000 soldiers, minus, on the field, would this be included… would in fact Spanish troops be included in this number to be reduced? And would you reduce the actual number, or including few member states who already did some withdrawal already, like British, Germans, they did it in past couple of months? It's small, it's not a significant number, but in technical terms… The number that you will decide to reduce would it be starting from the date that you decided, or you would include previous announcements?

JAMES APPATHURAI: The mechanics of how this will be worked out, including what each individual nation would do, would be if and when a decision were to be taken, decided or would be as the result of a process led by SACEUR, so that has not been decided now. That's the first point. Second pointis, it is not envisioned to be a reduction of 5,000. That's not the way it is envisioned. There is a target figure, yes, a general target figure to which gate one would work towards. Sorry. There is a general figure towards which they would be working. I will not give that figure now, but you probably know what it is. The current numbers in KFOR now by the way are 13,800. This is not the result of any reductions by any individual nation, but simple ebb and flow of the rotations in and out of individual nations. But as to who exactly will reduce what and at what pace, that will be done as the result of a process which SACEUR would lead, and on the principle of in-together, out-together. What we want to see if and when the Allies make this decision, is a measured , coordinated process which reflects and will always reflect the security situation on the ground, the growing capability of the institutions in Kosovo, but also very much the growing capability of the international institutions in Kosovo, which in the case for example of EULEX now has its operating capability, is operating very well, so at each stage, and when those stages are considered, they will be considered in light yes, of the political context, very much of the security situation on the ground. I say all of this to assure anyone that KFOR takes its mission to maintain a safe and secure environment very seriously, and nothing will be done that would undermine that.

Q: Are Europeans aware of your plans? Intentions? I mean the mission on the ground who is dealing with rule of law?

JAMES APPATHURAI: You mean the European, the EU?

Q: Yes, EU and the mission in Kosovo.

JAMES APPATHURAI: Well I can tell you the Secretary General met this morning with Peter Feith, and Monsieur De Kermabon, and of course they have been fully part of all discussions. We work as a team, of course each in our separate mandates, but where there is communication necessary, informal communication necessary, it is… it takes place.

Q: Could you be a little bit more explicit on the term… deterrent presence? Who… who will be deterred, and what will be eventually this presence?

JAMES APPATHURAI: (Laughs) Deterrent presence is the phase in the evolution of KFOR that had always been as part of the overall operational plan, so this is not a term that has been invented, it is the normal evolution of a military operation in the NATO context, and does not involve – and this is an important point – does not involve or envision a total withdrawal of KFOR. That is not the idea. KFOR will remain in Kosovo, even in the context of deterrent presence, with the forces necessary to carry out its mission under 1244. Exactly how it would be structured and what exactly it will do we will explain more fully on Thursday. If and when such a decision is taken.

Q: I just wanted to ask about Afghanistan, and how… can you give us an idea of how far countries have got in meeting the commitments that they made in Strasbourg? And you referred to the ANA Trust Fund. How much money is in it at the moment?

JAMES APPATHURAI: Good question. I don't know the answer. I'll have to check. The ANA Trust Fund is one issue. Election Support Forces were the other commitment made at… at Strasbourg and Kehl. We can tick the box on that one. We've met it. As to the money for the ANA Trust Fund, I will have to check, though I'm guessing the phone will buzz anytime now with the answer. I'll just put it on the table.

Q: Please James, two short questions. First on Kosovo: if there will be some possible reduction of forces will be some priority given to the partner nations, I mean for example Ukrainians taking part in it? And if yes, what kind of tools will be used for? It is bilateral consultations or some other? You know what level that decision should be taken. And the second question on Afghanistan. Yesterday a new Ambassador of the US to NATO mentioned that he believes that those troops sent to reinforce and to support the elections process should stay in Afghanistan like a clear contribution of European Allies. What is the official position of NATO on that issue? Thank you.

JAMES APPATHURAI: Thank you. The… Yes, here it comes… The… In terms of the partner nations, we have… that's good. We have a mechanism… a number of mechanisms within NATO (Recording Skips) and military spheres so you can be assured (Recording Skips) process the NATO partners as to which… Oh that's good. The… Yeah, we have a combined statement of requirements. What NATO would like to see is to see that combined statement of requirements met. Now the election support forces have been pledged for a defined period. As to what Allies decide to do with those forces afterwards, of course that's up to them, but I think that NATO would be very happy if under any conditions or arrangements the statement of requirements could be fully met. I think we should put this in context though. ISAF is now well above, or it is above 60,000. It will continue to grow, not least as US forces continue to flow into theatre. The US is bringing, and this is under ISAF, for example a combat aviation brigade that brings with it over 100 helicopters. ISAF is now very big, and it is very powerful, and it continues to grow. So yes, we still have shortfalls, and yes we would like to see in particular the European Allies do more to help meet the shortfalls, but we should not think that ISAF is the same size it was two years ago. It isn't. But you make an important point, and I think it's one the Secretary General shares very much. We need to avoid a situation in which the operation is unbalanced politically, because the United States, and quite rightly is bringing in a very substantial increase to the forces in ISAF. That is something we need to welcome, but we also need to ensure that there is balance in terms of contribution to this mission, because if there is an imbalance it is politically more difficult to sustain. And for that reason alone, but also it's simply in terms of equitable burden-sharing and fairness, we would like to see the European Allies doing as much as they can. Now that doesn't mean only military forces; it can also mean contributions in terms of civilian reconstruction, development, financial assistance. There's a lot that Europe, and might I add my own country Canada can do to play their fair share in the context of an increasing American role.

Q: From Mainichi news (inaudible) (Recording Skips) about Afghanistan also. I heard that some contact between the NATO and Iranian side of the possible opening of the transit route via Iran. Is it true or this transit route issue will be on agenda of ISAF meeting?

JAMES APPATHURAI: I don't know that transit… I have not seen – let me put it another way – I have not seen any information that transit routes will be a specific discussion on the agenda for the Ministerial. What I can confirm is – and this I have mentioned before – contacts between the military of Iran and ISAF with regard to the border to ensure that there are no misunderstandings with regard to military operations that take place. I have seen those same press reports, but I won't comment any further on them. Let's go back… oh no, sorry go ahead, go ahead.

Q: James there was some press reports, according to which the US are discussing of creating a special structure of command for ISAF in Brussels…


Q: Wherever he's… a different one… not in Kabul.

JAMES APPATHURAI: I haven't seen those press reports. I have certainly not had the slightest hint that there would be a new US command outside of Kabul or in Brussels. That would be news to me. I have seen press reports about discussions about looking at increasing the Headquarters' capacity – let's put it that way – in… in Kabul, to reflect the increasing US presence within ISAF, but as I say, these are press reports that I have seen. Nothing outside of… nothing outside of Kabul.

Q: (Inaudible) Geo news Pakistan. I would like to draw your attention that there's a widespread press reports in the Pakistani press that some of the weaponry found which Taleban left behind in (inaudible) district in Swat Valley are a mark of NATO weaponry. Would you comment on that?

JAMES APPATHURAI: First, I have to say, and I say this with great respect, sometimes everything you read out of the Pakistani press is not true. But even if it is true, no I have not seen these reports. I have seen no intelligence reports or others that would indicate that. This has not been briefed to us. So I don't know if there's any truth to it at all. I really could not… I have no information, let me put it that way, I have no information that this is true. But I will ask (inaudible) and see.

Q: Est-ce que tu peux confirmer… c'est peut-être un complément à la question posée de notre camarade sur un commandement américain à Bruxelles. En fait, est-ce qu'il s'agit pas plutôt d'une réforme des structures de commandement qui va être discuté par les ministres justement pour tenir compte de l’apport des troupes américaines? Est-ce que tu peux confirmer dans… de quel ordre et dans quelle direction irait cette réforme si elle a lieu?

JAMES APPATHURAI: Ce n'est pas impossible qu'il y aurait une discussion par les ministres. Et je ne sais pas quels ministres, soit les ministres de l'OTAN ou les ministres de l'ISAF au sujet d'un ajustement, si c'est le bon mot, comme je viens de dire, au structure de commandement à Kaboul, pour en tenir compte de l'élargissement du… de la présence… Non, pas juste de la présence américaine, ça ce n'est pas juste. De tenir compte de certains changements sur le terrain: l'élargissement de l'ISAF qui demande… un contrôle opérationnel… une capacité de contrôle opérationnel accrue. Deuxièmement, le requirement, demande mais ce n'est pas demande… the requirement pour une coordination accrue entre l'ISAF, les Afghans, les Pakistanais, l'ONU, UNAMA sur le terrain. La création du nouvel (sic) commandement NTM-A, qui va demander aussi l'attention du QG. Tout ça demande une discussion si le QG que nous avons en ce moment est suffisant, ou si ça serait nécessaire de l'augmenter avec plus de capacité et si oui, si la structure demande une modification. Ça sera discuté je pense. Je suis pas sûr, mais je pense, pendant le ministériel. Je ne sais pas dans quelle réunion, soit le dîner, soit le matin, je veux dire le working lunch, soit entre les ministres de l'ISAF. Mais c'est possible que ça aura lieu.

Q: James, une question pour enchaîner… Est-ce qu'il est imaginable désormais que ce soit un général autre qu'américain qui commande l'ISAF? Quand on regarde qu'en dessous les quartiers-généraux qui ont fait appel sont parfois des quartiers-généraux fournis par la chaîne de commandement OTAN ou en dehors on parle de l'Eurocorps en 2012. Est-ce que ça veut dire que si l'Eurocorps fournit l'essential du Q-G, ou une partie du Q-G, est-ce que ça peut être un général autre qu'américain qui commande désormais?

JAMES APPATHURAI: J'ai… je n'ai pas encore entendu parler de l'Eurocorps… du… prochain… mais selon ce que nous appelons le flags to post, alors c'est un dessin agréé par toutes les nations… C'est un américain qui va commander l'ISAF, ça, ça va pas changer… Bon, pour le moment ça va pas changer. Ça c'est le dessin agréé par tous… toutes les alliés et qui reflète très franchement le… la contribution américaine. C'est complètement normal dans une opération, si c'était 50%, 60% canadien… canadienne… canadien on demanderait aussi à Ottawa qu'on serait à la tête de cette opération.

Q: On Kosovo you said that there are around 13,000…

JAMES APPATHURAI: 14,000… 13,800.

Q: 800, so that means two thousand less than four months ago. So…

JAMES APPATHURAI: About 1,200 or so less I think than… than four months ago, but my understanding from the military authorities is this reflects…

Q: Is any… is any member states except Spain citing the political reasons why they are withdrawing fully from Kosovo? Like they don't agree with independence or any other reason?

JAMES APPATHURAI: That is not part of the discussion that is taking place now. This is a discussion that will take place, is a discussion that will take place as it should. This is the process that NATO has, and that is based on military advice that comes from the Supreme Allied Commander, goes through the Military Committee. I might add that Spain has not withdrawn its forces and has committed to doing that in a measured and phased way. That was the agreement between the Secretary General and the Spanish government, and that is what will happen. But this is a… as I said, a discussion that will take place on the basis of consensus military advice. And then there will be of course the political level discussion by the military, by the Defence Ministers, and we'll tell you what that discussion was when we hear it.

Q: Sorry, just a follow up.


Q: Would it be the reduction from starting point as 15,000 as it was a couple of months ago, or from starting point this 13,800 as it is today?

JAMES APPATHURAI: Remember what I said: it's not a reduction from. It would be envisioning a smaller size and moving to that. Right? That's the point. The starting point, it's…


Q: Okay what's your target? How many soldiers should remain in Kosovo when you take the decision to reduce the number?

JAMES APPATHURAI: There is a number, but I'm not going to discuss it.

Q: There is a number to withdraw, or there is a number for soldiers to stay?

JAMES APPATHURAI: There is a number of the size that KFOR should be for each phase of the reduction. If that number can be used, it will be the Secretary General who will use it, and not me.

Q: Okay. A colleague from Macedonia asked me to put the question if NATO is informed on the story that the Ministry of Interior in Macedonia has bought six military helicopters. Are you informed? Are you concerned? What kind of signals it gives? Any comments?

JAMES APPATHURAI: Thank you for the question. I have to say I was not informed, so I have no comment to make now. I'm sure somebody in NATO knows, but they didn't tell me.

Q: James, in Afghanistan we have thirteen OMLTs that still need to be produced. Do you have already a figure as well for the POMLTs that we would need for the police? And then on the election support, can you give us a rough idea of the four battalions promised, if there are some that are already there, and some troops there? I mean we hear from the Italian command that Spanish and Italians will come in July. Do you know which are there already, and maybe from the US as well? If the air is already there as well, that you just mentioned, the brigade?

JAMES APPATHURAI: I'll give you all that detail, because it's still being finalized from SHAPE in a couple of days. I didn't get the final answers on that issue. It's all coming, so you'll have it, but I don't have it yet, and I don't have numbers on POMLTs either. I'm not sure we would have that yet. Yeah, please…

Q: I didn't understand two words when you were commenting the possibility of joining the efforts, the overall coordinated efforts for the training which would presumably fall under CSTC-A, no?

JAMES APPATHURAI: But what are currently under C-STCA a lot of that would move over to being under Commander Nato Training Mission Afghanistan.

Q: Do the Defence Ministers have to agree to that, no that's already been agreed that that will happen in four months more or less or not?

JAMES APPATHURAI: The mechanics of this now have to be decided by Defence Ministers. So let the Defence Ministers discuss it. That is how it is envisioned, with the possibility of a dual hat. C-STCA and Commander NTMA, but these are exactly the kinds of details that will be discussed, and then a way forward hopefully agreed by Defence Ministers. So I think again we'll give you more detail on Friday afternoon. A last one? My car hasn't been towed yet…

Q: Well I have two questions. Who's actually contributing to the KFOR? And the second, the Kosovo Security Force, how important is it in all this discussion about withdrawing?

JAMES APPATHURAI: Thank you. The exact contributions to KFOR are all on the web site. We have just updated it today. My colleague Simone has just put it up, so you're welcome to go and have a look at it. It's as current as it gets. The Kosovo Security Force is totally unrelated to the discussion of any possible changes to KFOR's size and structure. There is the Kosovo police force, there is of course EULEX, but the KSF will not be playing any kind of military role; it has no military tasks. It will not have military equipment. It plays a different function, which is a non-military civilian function. It is also very, very new, and only now starting to be created, and KFOR will continue to play the role that it has been assigned to help support the development of the KSF, but these are absolutely unrelated developments. Oh, wait, sorry! Two more.

Q: Can you just give us that number on the ANA Trust Fund? If it's sitting in your…?

JAMES APPATHURAI: Well you know I have a number, and they've sent it to me, I just wonder whether I'm supposed to say it. So I'm going to ask my colleague who's listening now, can I use these figures publicly? Please send me an SMS, thank you. Is that what you were asking as well? Yeah… well I don't know… So we can just chat. I could tell you, but…

Q: James, related to that, does NATO want the Europeans who are going to be sending in battalions for the elections to keep them in the country after the elections, and is that one of the sort of requests that…?

JAMES APPATHURAI: Has been heard? Yeah, I sort of addressed that. I mean the plan for election support forces are that they are there for a limited period of time. That's point one. Point two is politically, or for political reasons as well as military reasons, NATO would certainly like to see an increased European presence in ISAF to parallel – let's put it that way – the increasing US presence. Okay… Because we don't want to see an imbalance in the mission, because it is equitable burden-sharing for not just the Americans to increase, but also the others, either militarily and/or in the civil… on the civilian side with personnel or with money. And… well yeah, and that's basically the answer, but the support forces are envisioned to go in for a sustained period… for a defined period of time. Carmen tells me, and I trust her in all things, that I can say this: 24 Million Euros have been donated to the trust fund and 221 Million pledged for the sustainment costs of the… 221 Million. 24… Euros… Colleagues, I thank you. See you soon.