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NATO Defense Ministers Resist US Pressure to Send More Troops to Afghanistan

08 February 2007

NATO defense ministers have come under increased U.S. pressure to provide more troops for the NATO mission in Afghanistan in preparation for the Taleban offensive in the coming months.

At a meeting in Seville, Spain, Thursday, NATO's new supreme commander, U.S. General Bantz Craddock, presented the ministers with a plan to rebalance the existing force of 35,000 troops in Afghanistan.

The United States wants to bolster alliance forces in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border where the Taleban are most active.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters the allied push could significantly disrupt the Taleban's fighting ability.

But several European allies say there is too much emphasis on a military solution.

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, whose country approved the deployment of six Tornado surveillance aircraft, said Russians had 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, and they did not win.

NATO commanders expect a surge in Taleban violence in coming months as the weather improves.

The United States and Britain have promised more troops for the NATO force in Afghanistan. The Bush administration has asked Congress for more than $10 billion additional dollars to help strengthen Afghanistan's security forces.

Attacks by Taleban militants on NATO, U.S. and Afghan forces increased dramatically last year. More than 4,000 people have died in the violence.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

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