Nato allies urged to do their bit and bolster Barack Obama surge
BRITAIN last night stepped up calls for Nato allies to send more troops to Afghanistan, after President Barack Obama finally announced his long-awaited 30,000-strong US troop surge.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband said every member of the international coalition engaged in Afghanistan needed to consider how to play a role in the major new offensive against the Taleban.
Today, the foreign ministers of 43 Nato nations will meet to discuss the new strategy.
In response to Mr Obama's announcement, which will see troops arrive within three weeks, the Taleban expressed defiance, warning that more American troops would be killed.
Read extra analysis here
A Taleban commander in Wardak province said there could be no peace talks until all foreign troops had left Afghanistan.
He said: "Obama is sending more troops to Afghanistan, and that means more Americans will die.
"With just a handful of resources, we can cause them even more casualties and deaths."
Britain has already pledged to send 500 more troops, taking the total number of UK servicemen and women in Afghanistan to more than 10,000.
Mr Miliband issued his plea after the Nato secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, insisted other members should be doing "substantially more" to help the war effort.
He said the other members of Nato ought to be sending at least 5,000 extra troops "and probably a few thousand on top of that".
A Polish official said that the government would likely send 600 combat-ready reinforcements, mainly for patrolling and training, to beef up its 2,000-strong contingent.
Albania also stepped up, pledging 85 troops to add to its 235-strong presence. Macedonia's president promised to deploy an extra 80 soldiers in February, raising the strength of its contingent of 250 to 330.
The Czech defence ministry floated the possibility of sending 100 more troops to add to 535 approved for deployment next year. That offer would need parliamentary approval.
Spain's El Pais newspaper said the defence ministry was considering sending 200 more soldiers to its contingent of 1,000.
Italy promised to do its part – "to save Nato's credibility", prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said – but gave no troop pledges. Finland said it would consider next week whether to reinforce troops.
The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, praised Mr Obama's speech as "courageous", but gave no hint of sending more soldiers.
Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, praised Mr Obama for making it clear that there must be an end to the mission. He said: "There cannot be only a military solution, but what we need is a political solution that is supported by the military."
Mr Westerwelle and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, said their countries remained committed to building up and training the Afghan police force.
The announcement of the extra troops came as US defence chiefs admitted the Taleban was now the "dominant influence" in 11 out of 34 Afghanistan provinces.
Mr Miliband said there were no British plans to send any more soldiers than the 500 already destined for Afghanistan, but he added that all coalition members – including the big countries, such as France and Germany – needed to play their part.
"Germany and France are certainly going to be thinking about their contribution," Mr Miliband said.
"The terrorism that can incubate in Afghanistan can strike people anywhere in the world, of any nationality, so I think it is very important that every country plays an appropriate part in meeting the challenge that exists."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 10 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West