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US Defense Chief Calls for More NATO Troops in Afghanistan

  • VOA News

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called on NATO members to send more combat troops to Afghanistan.

Gates made the appeal as he spoke with reporters Thursday during a two-day meeting of NATO defense chiefs in Vilnius, Lithuania. Gates has criticized NATO members in the past for not fulfilling their commitments to the Afghan mission.

But Gates said he does not think the NATO mission, aimed at battling Taliban insurgents, is in danger of failing. He said he thinks more troops will could help accomplish the mission faster.

Earlier, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer warned that a NATO failure in Afghanistan could prompt new terrorist attacks in other parts of the world. He also said NATO must boost its military effectiveness in Afghanistan.

NATO is facing complaints from alliance-member Canada, which says it is not receiving sufficiently-wide support for its strong military presence in southern Afghanistan.

The Canadian government has threatened to pull its troops from Afghanistan next year unless other allies send reinforcements.

Canada, the Netherlands and Britain have joined the United States in doing the bulk of fighting in Afghanistan's volatile south.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Canada's complaints Wednesday in London, where she said NATO countries must share the burden of fighting in Afghanistan more equally.
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