LONDON, Nov 30: Three European countries said on Monday they were ready to send reinforcements to Afghanistan, a day before US President Barack Obama was expected to announce a massive troop surge.
Obama is expected to announce between 30,000 and 35,000 reinforcements today as part of a new Afghan strategy intended in his own words to “finish the job” there.
Britain, Italy and Macedonia said they were prepared to boost their military commitment to the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said London will boost its regular troops in Afghanistan by 500, bringing its total deployment there over the 10,000 mark. Eight other Nato members, apart from the United States, had agreed to send more troops to Afghanistan, Brown said on Monday, citing Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “I believe over the coming months, even more countries will respond,” Brown told lawmakers in the House of Commons.
“As long as the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas are the location of choice for Al Qaeda and the epicentre of global terrorism, it’s the government’s judgment that we should address the threat at its source.”
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Rome was ready to send more troops, without specifying how many. “Afghanistan is a test for the Atlantic alliance’s credibility. It is clear that Italy must finish the job started with Nato and make a greater contribution if it is needed,” Frattini said in comments reported by the ANSA news agency. “It is our duty as a member of the international community and not just as a partner of the United States.”
Italy currently has 3,250 soldiers in Afghanistan, the sixth largest contingent in the international alliance.
Macedonia -- not a Nato member -- has agreed to send an extra 80 soldiers to serve with Isaf from February, adding to its 160 troops already there. President George Ivanov wrote to Rasmussen on Monday to confirm the reinforcements, adding that Macedonia planned to have eight percent of its armed forces on international peace missions by 2018.—AFP