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U.S. To Ask NATO To Relax Afghan Mission Limits

13 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld plans to press NATO allies today to drop restrictions on what their troops may do in Afghanistan and on other alliance missions.

Rumsfeld stopped briefly in London today. He is scheduled to travel on to Berlin for an informal meeting of NATO defense ministers.

Staff members traveling with him said Rumsfeld will ask NATO allies to cancel various limits in activities such as pursuing enemy forces beyond certain boundaries, using riot-control tactics, or deploying only logistical support but not troops.

NATO currently leads a 10,000-personnel International Security Assistance Force in the north and west of Afghanistan. The staff members, who asked not to be named, said that Rumsfeld will continue U.S. urging for NATO eventually to take overall command of the 20,000-strong U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.

British Defense Secretary John Reid today said that several thousand extra NATO troops are needed in Afghanistan's volatile south, and pledged to send more British troops.


For RFE/RL's full coverage of the 18 September elections in Afghanistan, see "Afghanistan Votes"