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NATO members to send more troops to Afghanistan
More than 20 countries plan to send additional troops to Afghanistan following a U.S. decision to deploy 30,000 more there. The news comes as NATO alliance Foreign Ministers gathered in Brussels for two days of talks.
CA Online and wire services
BRUSSELS — More than 20 countries plan to send additional troops to Afghanistan following a U.S. decision to deploy 30,000 more there, NATO officials said December 3.
The news comes as the Foreign Ministers of the alliance gathered in Brussels for two days of talks.
They are expected to focus on a request by U.S. President Barack Obama for NATO allies to send some 10,000 more troops. A spokesman said members were set to pledge more than 5,000.
Several European nations have been reluctant to commit more forces to the eight-year-old conflict.
Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa told the Corriere della Sera newspaper on December 3 that Rome would send about 1,000 extra troops to Afghanistan. It currently has 3,200 soldiers there.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking after a meeting with Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, indicated that Russia, too, would do its part in Afghanistan."We are ready to support these efforts, guarantee the transit of troops, take part in economic projects and train police and the military."
The German parliament voted to extend by a year the mandate allowing the government to send troops to Afghanistan, but did not lift the manpower limit currently set at 4,500 soldiers.
"Well over 20 countries have already indicated they intend to increase their troops numbers in Afghanistan," said NATO spokesman James Appathurai. "Failure in Afghanistan would mean a Taliban takeover of much, if not most, of the country and likely a renewed civil war. Based on what we have heard in the last 24 hours... we are already beyond the 5,000 figure." He confirmed, however, that there were still "significant shortfalls" in required numbers of army and police trainers.
The full extent of additional resources coming from NATO allies remains unclear. It is expected that more member countries will declare their intentions over the next two days. Many NATO governments face publics sceptical about the mission in Afghanistan.