Britain and the United States have played down a rift with major European allies over their reluctance to commit more troops to Afghanistan at a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Seville, Spain. NATO’s new top commander US General John Craddock presented ministers with a plan to sharpen operations by adding more mobile combat units in the volatile southern and eastern regions for a spring offensive against the Taliban.
He called for 2,500 extra troops- a request that prompted a lukewarm response from some of the 26 allies. Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said his country would provide economic support for Afghanistan but stopped short of committing troops to the country. The reluctance of Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Turkey to provide more fighting forces has irked those nations on the front line, raising concern over a split within the alliance.