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New NATO Chief Calls for More Troops in Afghanistan

By VOA News
07 August 2009

New NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says more troops are needed in Afghanistan to defeat a resurgent Taliban movement.

Rasmussen told British radio (BBC) Friday that progress had been made against the insurgents in southern Afghanistan because of a recent increase in troop numbers there.

Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister, also said gradually handing over security to the Afghan army and police will be a key marker of success for NATO.

The United States has already said its commanders are considering asking to deploy more soldiers, and Georgia's parliament has approved plans to send more troops. But Thursday Canada's foreign minister, Lawrence Cannon, confirmed his country's troops will go home as planned by 2011.

The last few weeks have been especially deadly for Western soldiers. Officials blame Taliban insurgents, who have stepped up attacks across the country to discourage voters from taking part in the August 20 elections.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai held a campaign rally in Kabul Friday, drawing thousands of enthusiastic supporters. Mr. Karzai is seen as the frontrunner, but is facing two strong challengers, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.



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