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Georgia to Almost Double its Troops in Afghanistan in 2012

RIA Novosti

18:48 25/01/2012 STRASBOURG, January 25 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia plans to strengthen its almost 1,000-strong peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan by 700 more troops in 2012, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said on Wednesday.

While other nations participating in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan are pulling their troops out of the war-torn country, President Mikheil Saakashvili proposed last year to increase the number of Georgian peacekeepers and the country’s lawmakers approved his move in December.

Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg, Vashadze said Georgia “has solid intentions to continue participating in the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan.”

Georgia, which is actively seeking NATO membership, joined the international U.S.-led coalition fighting the Afghan insurgency in August of 2009.

The Georgian minister added that it is “impossible to grow further without taking security issues into account… and we [Georgia] are constantly working on the issue of joining NATO.”

Georgia currently has around 750 troops in the Helmand Province and 175 in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.

At least ten Georgian soldiers have been killed since joining the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in Afghanistan.

All international combat troops are expected to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, with security to be passed to the Afghan police and army.

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