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U.K. PM sees 5,000 more NATO Afghan troops

Britain's prime minister says NATO nations may contribute 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan — offering key backing as the U.S. decides whether to increase troop levels.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Britain's prime minister said Friday he could secure commitments for 5,000 more NATO forces in Afghanistan, offering key backing to the United States as it weighs increasing troop levels.

Gordon Brown robustly defended Britain's mission in Afghanistan, but he acknowledged in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. that Britain needed to "adjust our approach" amid rising casualties. He insisted that Washington and London need the 43 other nations involved in the International Security Assistance Force to step up to help share the burden.

"I think we can probably get another 5,000 forces into Afghanistan," he said.

Brown has already pledged 500 more troops to the war effort under certain conditions. Brown has offered unwavering support to President Barack Obama as the U.S. leader considers a troop increase of as much as 40,000 soldiers.

"I have taken the responsibility of asking others in Europe, and outside Europe actually, if they will back this strategy which is partnering the Afghan forces, mentoring the Afghan forces," he said.

The remarks come a day after Brown met with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The NATO chief said that other allied nations have privately pledged more help, but Rasmussen stopped short of saying that countries would send more troops.

Canada, Finland and the Netherlands have either pulled troops out or set withdrawal dates. Other countries, such as Denmark, Italy, Germany, Norway and Sweden, say they will maintain current troop levels but have no immediate plans to increase them. Only Britain and Turkey have made significant pledges, and Turkey — a Muslim country — has committed noncombat personnel only.

It was unclear how many pledges had been made or whether assistance would be in the form of troops, trainers or other resources.

Europe has been reluctant to continue supporting the U.S.-led mission that began in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Public opinion has wavered as more troops die, and as fewer known terror plots are traced back to Afghanistan.

Questions are being raised why Europeans are asked to die for a corrupt and inefficient government in Kabul that shows little signs of wanting to change.