Italy to send 1,000 more troops to Afghanistan

Nov 30, -0001
ROME: Italy will send around 1,000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan as part of U.S. President Barack Obama's planned troop surge, Italian Defence Minister Ignacio La Russa said in an interview published Thursday.

Responding to Italian media reports that Italy would send 1,500 men, La Russa told Corriere della Sera newspaper: "That is just a hypothesis, a maximum quota which we would never reach ... We are below that figure."

He said an exact number would be agreed in the coming days at a meeting between Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Asked if the actual figure was likely to be around 1,000, he replied: "Yes, I'd say so."

An aide to the defence minister told Reuters that at present an increase of between 800 and 1,000 troops was being discussed, which would be reached gradually in 2010 by withdrawing soldiers from peacekeeping missions in the Balkans and Lebanon. AGENCIES




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