New NATO Chief Sets to Work

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister, has started his first day at work as head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato).

In his first major speech as the military alliance's head, Rasmussen said that during his five year term he wanted to see "Afghans take over responsibility for security in most of their country", in reference to the US-led operation in Afghanistan, reports.

“Let no Taliban propagandist try to sell my message as a run for the exit. It is not. We will support the Afghan people for as long as it takes; let me repeat that, for as long as it takes.”

Rasmussen hopes to persuade smaller NATO members to do more in Afghanistan, where America and Britain have the most troops. It has been a bloody few weeks, with NATO under increasing Taliban attack and public pressure is growing for the mission to be properly defined, euronews reports.

Mr Rasmussen also said he wanted Nato to work more with civilian organisations.

"Nato is a strong military alliance and we need a strong military effort in Afghanistan," he said.

"But to win the peace and to win hearts and minds we need to provide Afghan people with better life opportunities and assist the government in the development of democratic institutions."

To help achieve that, Nato needs to expand its capacity to work with the European Union, United Nations and other civilian groups, BBC News reports.