More soldiers may head for Afghanistan after all

September 15th, 2006  

Topic: More soldiers may head for Afghanistan after all

Source: Aftenposten English Webdesk

Norway's foreign minister says the government may end up sending more soldiers to Afghanistan, even though Norwegian military leaders haven't volunteered any to NATO.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre won't rule out sending more soldiers to Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre says no decision will be made until after a meeting of all the foreign ministers from NATO countries is held next week in New York.

NATO members, including Norway, have been under pressure to contribute more troops to the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Norway already has troops in northern Afghanistan, but it's in the south, especially along the border to Pakistan, where they're most needed.

Canadian and British troops in the area now need reinforcements, and NATO leaders are calling for up to another 2,500 soldiers to bring the total in Afghanistan to around 18,500, a level earlier agreed by politicians.

Norwegian military brass earlier have claimed they don't have enough trained personnel to add to the operations in Afghanistan, while also sending troops to Lebanon and Sudan.

Støre told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), however, that the Norwegian government may reconsider. They could, for example, send special forces to southern Afghanistan along with those from other countries with the aim of strengthening NATO's presence in the area.

Norwegian military leaders, meanwhile, rejected on Friday suggestions from a few key politicians that Norwegian soldiers aren't sufficiently trained for dangerous missions in hostile areas. One top officer said Norway's troops "do a phenomenal job" and have the education and training they need before being sent overseas.

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