NATO has approved plans to almost double its peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.The 26-nation body meeting in Brussels has given the greenlight for troop numbers to be raised from 9,000 to 17,000. Just before US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld arrived to speak,anti-nuclear protesters blocked access to the venue, reportedly resulting in 24 arrests. Rumsfeld said: “There’s (sic) 42 countries participating in the coalition in Afghanistan. It’s impressive. The 26 NATO nations, and then, today, we had meetings not only with the NATO nations on Afghanistan, but I think 14 or 16 other countries were here, who are in one way or another assisting in that coalition effort in Afghanistan, all of whom have troops or people on the ground, of one nature or another.” NATO has called on countries to donate more towards the rebuilding of Afghanistan. Rebels have stepped up attacks there. About 400 people died last month alone in violence blamed on fighters loyal to the former Islamist Taliban government, which was ousted by US forces in 2001.