Nato result for Brown
Posted by Jamie at 9 05 PM on Saturday, April 4
FIVE THOUSAND extra European troops are to be sent to Afghanistan in a major triumph for PM Gordon Brown.
At the NATO talks in Strasbourg yesterday, he persuaded nine other European nations to follow Britain’s lead and commit to deploying extra forces to safeguard the Afghan elections this summer.
Britain already has 8,100 troops in the country and the PM has now promised 900 more.
Another 600 have been promised from Germany and 600 from Spain, with further forces from Italy, Holland, Portugal, Greece, Poland, Turkey, Croatia.
There are currently more than 70,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, mostly under NATO command.
President Obama has already promised to send 21,000 additional US troops, and is under pressure from his generals to deploy 10,000 more.
The president had demanded a massive long-term commitment. But Europe’s extra troops are expected to be pulled back after about four months.
Speaking at the end of the summit, Mr Brown said: “We must not allow the Taliban to disrupt the democratic process.
“I said we would have to see burden-sharing on behalf of the Nato countries and I’m pleased to say a large number have announced they will provide additional support.”
The agreement came as a relief, because hopes appeared dashed on Friday when French President Nicolas Sarkozy refused to increase his deployment. In return for the extra troops, Afghanistan’s leaders have been told they must step up action to tackle corruption and the drug trade.
They must also scrap hardline new laws which would sanction rape within marriage.
Mr Brown held talks with Afghan president Karzai about the laws, which cover the nation’s Shia community, and was promised a judicial review and “if necessary” a change in the law.
Mr Brown said: “People will not accept that British soldiers are working to make Afghanistan safe if the rights of women are not being upheld.”
Mr Obama hailed the “concrete commitment” to a 5,000-strong reinforcement as a strong downpayment to securing Afghanistan’s future.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband paid tribute to the “Obama effect”, saying it was crucial in bringing the other nations on board.
NATO members also agreed to appoint Danish prime minister Anders Rasmussen, 56, as their next Secretary-General.
OUTSIDE the summit, hundreds of protesters hurled firebombs, rocks and bottles at riot police. A hotel was burned down and there were at least 100 arrests.
LABOUR cut the Tory lead by three points in the latest Sunday Times YouGov poll in the wake of the G20 summit. They took 34% of the vote, with the Conservatives unchanged at 41%.