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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Spain could double Afghan troops
Spanish troops in Kabul
Spanish troops are helping with reconstruction
The incoming Spanish government, said to be considering withdrawing forces from Iraq, has agreed to double the number of its troops in Afghanistan.

The decision was made by outgoing Defence Minister Frederico Trillo, apparently with no objections from his Socialist Party (PSOE) successor.

The party swept to victory in elections days after the 11 March Madrid attacks.

PSOE's leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had campaigned against Spain's support for the US invasion of Iraq.

Reconstruction

Mr Zapatero has said he plans to withdraw the 1,300 troops from Iraq when Spain's mandate expires on 30 June unless the United Nations takes charge there.

But the party is said to have raised no objection to a relief of forces before then.

PSOE is said to consider the situation in Afghanistan as totally different to Iraq, as the international troops there are sanctioned by the United Nations and are under Nato command.

The forces are overseeing the country's reconstruction after the US attacks that toppled the Taleban in 2002.

The decision could mean Spain's contingent will increase from 125 to 250 soldiers this summer.




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