BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that an international peacekeeping force will soon be sent into Afghanistan, although "the mix and the leadership" among nations has yet to be determined.
Powell told a news conference at NATO headquarters that the new interim post-Taliban government formed a day earlier had requested the presence of peacekeepers
"There will be no shortage of troops," Powell said.
Citing reports that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar had agreed to hand over control of the militia's last bastion of Kandahar, Powell said it is just a matter of time until the last remnants of Taliban control end.
Powell said that NATO partners, at their winter meeting, had agreed to move more quickly to improve the capacity to resist terrorism.
"Now, more than ever, NATO matters," Powell said.
The 19-nation alliance pledged in a statement to stand fast "individually and collectively" behind the U.S.-led military operation to root out terrorists linked to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
It agreed "to combat this scourge ... for as long as necessary."
The alliance also agreed to set up a new council within NATO that would include Russia.
But Powell said Russia would not have veto powers, and that NATO could still act on issues without consulting Russia.
Powell said a decision will be made soon on the makeup and leadership of a peacekeeping force.
"Getting the right mix and leadership remains to be sorted out," he said.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Powell also sought financial support from NATO members for the day-old interim post-Taliban government in Afghanistan.
And he worked to ease members' concerns that their offers of troops for the Afghanistan operation were being spurned.
"The circumstances of this campaign means that not every ally is fighting in Afghanistan -- but every ally is in the fight," Powell said earlier.
"Don't stand down, there's a lot more to be done," he added.
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