5 Dec 2009

NATO countries pledge extra soldiers to Afghanistan

4:21 pm on 5 December 2009

NATO countries are to send 7000 troops to support the United States surge in Afghanistan.

Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced that at least 25 countries have promised the extra forces in 2010, and he has indicated that there are more troops to come.

The United States this week pledged to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and called on allies among the 43 nations with troops already there to send about 10,000 extra soldiers.

The extra commitment still falls short of the 10,000 troops Pentagon officials had originally hoped for and does not take account of the 4900 Dutch and Canadian troops due to leave the field in 2010 and 2011.

Some major countries are holding back, the BBC reports. France and Germany have not yet committed themselves to sending extra troops.

Clinton heartened by 'positive response'

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has welcomed what she calls a significant commitment, saying she's extremely heartened by the NATO allies' positive response.

Mr Rasmussen told a NATO meeting in Brussels that member states need to work together to defeat Taliban fighters.

What happens in Afghanistan has a direct effect on NATO members' own security, he said, and the alliance will do what is necessary to finish the job it has taken on.