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Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 16:59 UK

Welcome for more Afghan resources

By Alastair Leithead
BBC News, Kabul

Canadian soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan
Canada had asked for further troop commitments from its allies

Military leaders in Afghanistan have welcomed the 2,000 extra troops and resources committed by a number of different nations at the Nato summit in Bucharest.

More helicopters, a land transit route across Russia and extra training teams will reinforce the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) mission.

But the BBC has been told there are still gaps.

France was the country to dig the deepest - its battalion of troops offered for eastern Afghanistan will number more than 700.

Georgia has committed 500 to operate in the south and the east, and Poland's extra 400 troops will bring eight more helicopters to a mission that "needs more flying machines", in the words of its commander.

Romania, Greece, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic and New Zealand will bring small numbers of specialist training teams to work with Afghan police and soldiers, or special forces units able to operate in the most dangerous parts of the country.

Two cheers

President Hamid Karzai's announcement that responsibility for Kabul's security will be handed over from Nato to the Afghan security forces in August means the Italians will redeploy more of their numbers into training.

NATO heads of states and governments pose for a family picture
Several commitments to Afghanistan were made at the Nato summit

And the land route for non-lethal supplies agreed by Russia will take the pressure off the supply chain currently moving through Pakistan.

The reaction here in Kabul was "pleased but not satisfied".

"It was more than we expected", an Isaf source said, "but it doesn't fill all the gaps - more troops and more training teams would be ideal.

"It's not three cheers, but it is two."

Britain, while still deciding whether to send more troops, laid out plans for a heliocopter trust fund to use money from richer nations to upgrade poor nations' helicopters for deployment in Afghanistan.

It's thought this could lead to a significant number of extra helicopters.

And on the sidelines of the summit, the UN's new envoy pledged to work more closely with Nato forces to combine the aid efforts in Afghanistan.


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