Feb 18, 2009

Italy to increase troops in Afghanistan

Here is an excerpt from a news story I came across today.

Italy is to increase its troops in Afghanistan in response to a call from the United States, Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said after meeting with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday.

La Russa said the number of Italian troops in Afghanistan was already being raised from some 2,300 to 2,800, and the government "might consider" asking the parliament for more reinforcements to help safeguard the Afghan elections in August.

He did not specify what that "hypothetical" number might be.
La Russa echoed other ministers in noting that Italy was the third-biggest contributor to the NATO mission and called on other European Union countries to shoulder more of the burden.
Last week Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said troops would go up to 2,800 and their deployment would be more flexible.

He said it was time for other major European countries to "play their part."
Stressing the need for a political solution alongside military action, Frattini underscored the importance of a conference on Afghanistan featuring all the regional players, which Italy has called as Group of Eight president.

The conference, focusing on stabilizing the Afghan-Pakistani border, will take place in Trieste in June.

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