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February 27, 2014 AT 9:34 AM
NATO defense ministers agreed on Thursday to plan for all options for the alliance's future presence in Afghanistan including a possible pullout of all its troops this year, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. With foreign troops due to end combat operations in Afghanistan at the close of 2014, NATO has been planning to keep a slimmed-down force there to train and assist Afghan forces who continue to battle Taliban insurgents. But NATO and U.S. officials say President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign an agreement with the United States creating a legal framework for U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan could force it to pull out all its troops by the end of the year.