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US/Afghanistan - Obama troop build-up

Europe ponders Afghan troop increase

Article published on the 2009-12-03 Latest update 2009-12-03 12:20 TU

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Photo: Reuters)

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
(Photo: Reuters)

Italy is to send between 500 and 1,500 troop reinforcements to Afghanistan, a source in the Defence Ministry has told the AFP news agency. Nato Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels are to discuss their response after Barack Obama's announcement on Wednesday that the US will send 30,000 more troops.

The 1,500 figure is "at the top end of the scale", Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa told the Corriere della Sera daily following press reports on the plan.

Albania has promised 85 more soldiers and Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Al Jazeera television Thursday that he expects 20 countries to "step up to the plate".

Britain and Poland have already promised more soldiers but France and Germany say they will not announce a decision before January's conference on Afghanistan in London.

The German parliament is debating an extension of the mandate of its 4,300 contingent.

The Nato meeting starts on Thursday with discussion on enlargement and is set to discuss Afghanistan on Friday along with relations with Russia.

The White House on Wednesday upped the pressure on President Hamid Karzai to clamp down on corruption and improve governance, following Obama's statement in his Tuesday speech that "the days of providing a blank cheque are over".

"If President Karzai is unable or unwilling to make changes in corruption or governance ... we will identify people at a sub-cabinet level, at a district level that can implement the types of services and basic governance, without corruption, that Afghans need," White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there are "real concerns about the influence of corrupt officials in the Afghan government and we will continue to pursue them".

Karzai has promised to crack down on graft, she said, adding that his words were "long in coming but welcome" and that they must "now be matched with action".

The commander of the international force in Afghanistan, Isaf, General Stanley McChrystal addressed Afghan parliamentarians on his security plans.

Efforts will focus on the south, where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, he told them, adding that he hopes that by next summer the strategy will have made a difference on the ground.


 On France 24 TV

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