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Originally published Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 2:23 AM

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NATO chief urges Europe not to cut defense budgets

NATO's secretary general is urging cash-strapped European nations not to use the alliance's drawdown of forces in Afghanistan as an excuse to cut defense spending.

The Associated Press

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MUNICH —

NATO's secretary general is urging cash-strapped European nations not to use the alliance's drawdown of forces in Afghanistan as an excuse to cut defense spending.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a gathering of the world's top diplomats and defense officials Saturday that "we must build on what we have gained in operations such as Afghanistan - not cash in what some may perceive as the post-ISAF dividend."

He says any more cuts now would lead to greater insecurity in the future.

Fogh Rasmussen says "in this age of austerity, that looks like an attractive option. But it would be the wrong option."

He noted that since 2001 the U.S.'s share of NATO defense spending has risen from 63 percent to 72 percent while most European nations have cut their defense budgets.

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