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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Nato in Afghan security warning
By Crispin Thorold
BBC correspondent in Kabul

The commander of Nato-led peacekeepers in Afghanistan has warned that security in Kabul may be at risk if stability is not brought to the country's provinces.

Isaf soldiers in Kabul
Kabul is Nato's first major assignment outside Europe
Lieutenant-General Goetz Gliemeroth was speaking a week after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution allowing the expansion of peacekeeping operations outside the capital.

General Gliemeroth's appeal comes as Afghanistan is beginning an ambitious programme to demobilise 100,000 militiamen across the country.

The UN-sponsored Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) scheme will be launched on Friday.

High risk

International peacekeepers in Kabul have brought relative stability to the Afghan capital, but much of the country is deeply insecure.

If we don't, all together, bring security to the provinces, they will bring instability to Kabul
Lt-Gen Goetz Gliemeroth
Isaf commander
Aid agencies say half of Afghanistan's provinces are high risk.

Last week, the Security Council authorised the expansion of peacekeeping operations outside Kabul.

Initially, up to 400 hundred German soldiers will be deployed to the northern city of Kunduz.

General Gliemeroth, who commands the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), told a monthly press briefing in Kabul that further details of the planned expansion were not available at this stage.

But he stressed that current peacekeeping operations in Kabul would not be threatened by the broader UN mandate.

'Tanks out'

General Gliemeroth also said the capital should be demilitarised, with heavy weapons owned by militias removed to cantonments.

Warlords, including Defence Minister Mohammed Fahim, have militiamen, tanks and artillery in the capital.

Isaf's call is in accordance with the terms of the Bonn agreement, signed after the US-led war against Afghanistan's former Taleban rulers.

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