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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 22:19 GMT 23:19 UK
Nato plans more Afghan resources
US troops in Afghanistan
America wants its allies to supply more troops to Afghanistan
Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says a number of alliance members have offered more resources for the military campaign in Afghanistan.

Officials at a meeting of Nato defence ministers in the Dutch coastal town of Noordwijk said as many as nine nations had offered more input to the mission.

Among the new offers were two by France and Germany for military instructors.

US officials, who have been calling for allies to send more troops to Afghanistan, welcomed the development.

The Nato secretary general told a news conference: "I've noticed offers from nations, including for the southern part of Afghanistan.

"We have 90% filled of what we need, but there are still shortages."

The exact shape of any new Nato contributions to the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) of 41,100 in Afghanistan could become clear next month during a meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Belgium.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Noordwijk says US, UK, Canadian and Dutch troops have been unhappy about bearing the lion's share of fighting a revived Taleban.

The US has an additional 7,000 troops serving in Afghanistan outside the Isaf framework.

'No free ride'

National caveats currently prevent some countries - such as Germany, Italy, France and Spain - from either fighting, or from being based in the more dangerous provinces.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates (L) and Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (R) in Noordwijk
I wouldn't say I'm satisfied - but I would say that today was considerably more positive than I anticipated
Robert Gates
US Defence Secretary

Nato's secretary general said he would float the idea of more national contingent rotations around the country, although he stressed it was a long-term idea.

French officials indicated they were planning to send up to 50 military trainers to the frontline in the south of the country to instruct Afghan security forces.

German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung announced Berlin would contribute more military trainers too. He also said reconstruction was as important as fighting insurgents.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates told the AP news agency: "I wouldn't say I'm satisfied. But I would say that today was considerably more positive than I anticipated."

The Netherlands, which is under growing public pressure to pull out its troops from Afghanistan, joined US calls for allies to share the burden as the two days of talks began.

"One thing is certain, there is no such thing as a free ride to peace and security," said Dutch Defence Minister Eimert Van Middelkoop.

Six years since the toppling of the Taleban regime, there is an air of concern, if not crisis, about the 38-nation mission to Afghanistan, say analysts.

As well as a Taleban fight back and record poppy crops, rebuilding has gone more slowly than expected, while civilian and military casualties have tested public support for the mission.

International Security Assistance Force

Troop contributing nations

  No. of troops   No. of troops
Albania 138 Italy 2395
Australia 907 Latvia 97
Austria 3 Lithuania 195
Azerbaijan 22 Luxembourg 9
Belgium 368 Macedonia 129
Bulgaria 401 Netherlands 1516
Canada 1730 New Zealand 138
Croatia 199 Norway 508
Czech Rep. 233 Poland 937
Denmark 454 Portugal 162
Estonia 128 Romania 536
Finland 85 Slovakia 70
France 1073 Slovenia 42
Georgia - Spain 715
Germany 3155 Sweden 340
Greece 146 Switzerland 2
Hungary 225 Turkey 1220
Iceland 11 United Kingdom 7740
Ireland 7 United States 15108
ISAF total 41144    
National Support elements 4140    

Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

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