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NATO To Provide Troops For Afghan Election

23 July 2004 -- NATO says it will send up to 2,000 Spanish and Italian troops to bolster security for Afghanistan'spresidential elections.

NATO said in a statement today that a Spanish battalion will be deployed before and after October 9 as a quick-reaction force, and an Italian battalion as an in-theater operational reserve force.

The Italian battalion is currently attached to the fledgling NATO Response Force, to become fully operational in October 2006.

The United States pressed at a NATO summit last month for the force to be activated to counter threats of poll-related violence in Afghanistan. France argued against deployment, saying the NRF should not be used as a solution to troop shortages for routine operations.

A compromise removed the Italian unit from the NRF for the period of
its deployment to Afghanistan.