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Mr. Rasmussen, 56, a former Danish prime minister, takes office at a time when European will to support NATO’s biggest mission, the war in Afghanistan, is waning. NATO casualties there hit an all-time high last month, and Britain, France and Germany have shown a reluctance to commit more troops.
But echoing the plaintive pleas of his predecessor, the Dutch diplomat Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Mr. Rasmussen called for more European troops and more Europeans to train the Afghan Army and police to stand on their own.