Italy has said it will send about a thousand extra soldiers to Afghanistan to support the surge in US troops. The Defence Minister, Ignazio La Russa, has told the paper Corriere della Sera that most will arrive in the second half of next year. Italy currently has about three thousand troops in the country.
Nato foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels to consider the Americans’ request for Nato countries to send reinforcements. Several European nations are reluctant to commit themselves. Nato’s leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Wednesday he expected US allies to provide at least 5000 extra troops, possibly more. The secretary general said Nato had to demonstrate its unity and strength. It’s thought that more countries may declare their intentions soon, but the full extent of extra resources remains unclear. The US has asked for several thousand more troops from Nato countries. The Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that failure to act would bring a Taliban takeover in much of the country – and a sanctuary for Al Qaeda. The thirty thousand extra American troops will boost the US presence to more than a hundred thousand. But they may have to wait for the outcome of a UN sponsored conference on Afghanistan in London at the end of January before they know the details of other countries commitments.