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Bush Urges NATO Members to Provide More Troops to Counter Taleban Insurgency in Afghanistan


President Bush has called on NATO members to provide more soldiers and to lift restrictions on the troops already serving in Afghanistan, as commanders prepare for an expected Taleban offensive in the coming months.

During a speech in Washington Thursday, Mr. Bush pledged to extend the stay of 32-hundred U.S. troops in the country by four months.

He also appealed to Congress to approve almost 12 billion dollars over the next two years for the war against the insurgents. He said U.S. allies must help strengthen Afghan security forces.

As Mr. Bush spoke, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing in Congress on the situation in Afghanistan.

Congressman Tom Lantos said the 21-thousand-500 troops being deployed to Iraq should go to Afghanistan. He also criticized NATO partners, saying it is unacceptable that NATO commanders are left to beg for troops.

Experts told the Foreign Affairs panel that, in addition to the NATO issue, Afghanistan is at risk because of insufficient U.S. and international aid to strengthen the Kabul government and fight the Taleban.

The House hearing, and remarks by President Bush, also focused on the problem of opium production in Afghanistan, which currently supplies more than 90 percent of the world market.

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