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'No Reduction' Seen By U.S. In Pakistani Border Efforts


WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Pakistani troops have not reduced their efforts to fight militants near the Afghan border in the aftermath of last week's attacks on Mumbai, India's financial capital, a U.S. general has said.

"Obviously, that was a concern," U.S. Army Major General Michael Tucker, a senior commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, told reporters at the Pentagon by videolink. "We stay in close dialogue with our Pakistani military counterparts in that regard, but to date we have not seen any reduction."

Analysts have suggested that Pakistan could shift troops to its border with India to prepare for the possibility of a conflict after Indian officials blamed Islamist militants based in Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks.

Such a shift, analysts say, could ease pressure on Islamist militants who train and stage attacks on U.S., NATO, and Afghan forces from Pakistan's western tribal areas.

Pakistani officials have reassured NATO they would not abandon operations near the Afghan border. "They've told us that they're remaining committed...to their fight here on the western side of their border," Tucker said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan was already preparing for the influx of an additional 20,000 U.S. troops to counter rising insurgent violence, he said.

Reinforcements on that scale have not yet been approved in Washington, but both President-elect Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is staying in his post in the incoming administration, have said they want to send more forces to Afghanistan.

The NATO-led force has some 51,000 troops in Afghanistan. The United States has about 32,000 troops in the country, split between the NATO force and other missions.
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