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“Though we are very supportive of the difficult decisions that will have to be made concerning the economy, just as back home President Obama is making difficult decisions concerning our own economy, we believe that the mission we are pursuing in Afghanistan must continue,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters.

The alliance has 140,000 troops in Afghanistan, two-thirds of them Americans. The government’s security forces are being built up to just over 300,000 members. Their Taliban opponents are estimated to number up to 30,000 men.

Allied commanders have highlighted their successes this year against Taliban insurgents in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, to emphasize that transition is ready.

But allied casualties have also reached record levels of some 650 dead this year, and the Taliban have spread out into other parts of Afghanistan.

On other issues, NATO’s newly expanded anti-missile shield would cost $273 million over the next 10 years, according to NATO chief Fogh Rasmussen, who also wants Russia to cooperate in the project. Despite claims by protesters that debt-plagued Europe can’t afford it amid austerity cuts, alliance officials insisted the project is worth it.

“We think it’s a good thing to have a missile defense system which is NATO-based,” Britain’s Defense Secretary Liam Fox told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “That provides us with communal protection over the years ahead, it’s cost-effective for us, and there are some 30 countries now which either have or are developing ballistic missiles.”

NATO’s leaders will not explicitly identify any potential enemy, although in the past officials have publicly singled out Iran and its ballistic missile program. But alliance member Turkey, which maintains close ties with Tehran, refused to let NATO name Iran as a threat.

“We cannot accept that any specific country [including] our neighbor Iran to be shown as a target,” Turkish President Abdullah Gul said. “It is absolutely out of the question.”

Founded in 1949 to counter the threat of a Soviet invasion, the 28-member alliance is in the midst of a mid-life crisis as it searches for relevance almost 20 years after the collapse of its communist rival.

Other elements of NATO’s new mission statement expected to be adopted Friday include new roles such as cyber-warfare and missions outside NATO’s traditional area in Europe, such as anti-piracy patrols off the Somali coastline.

NATO’s previous strategic concept focused mainly on its peacekeeping role in places like Bosnia and Kosovo. It was adopted in 1999, soon after the end of the Cold War and before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States forced the alliance to take on missions such as counterinsurgency warfare in Afghanistan.

The new document will also warn European governments not to slash defense spending at a time of economic crisis, because of the growing discrepancy in military capabilities between the United States and Europe’s NATO members. Most European nations are not even meeting the minimal requirement of devoting 2 percent of their GDP to defense.

America’s latest defense budget of over $710 billion dwarfs the combined annual military expenditures of its European allies, which total about $280 billion.

Barry Hatton and Robert Burns contributed from Lisbon.