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U.S. To Press NATO for Help In Iraq

10 February 2005 -- The United States is expected to ask its NATO allies to do more for the military effort in Iraq when NATO defense ministers meet today in France.

NATO said it would contribute 300 personnel for a training mission, but so far there are fewer than 100 on the ground. The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq strained ties between the United States and some European allies, especially Germany and France.

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, however, that NATO foreign ministers had held their "best" discussion on Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Speaking after talks in Brussels, Rice said the alliance was united and knew the work it had to do in Iraq. She also said Afghanistan remains a priority as well.

"People [at the Brussels meeting] talked about the fact that we must complete the obligation to Afghanistan so that we have not just a successful presidential election there but successful parliamentary elections, and that we need to deal with the counternarcotics problem in Afghanistan, and that we need to have more provincial reconstruction teams so that the administration of President Karzai can extend its scope outside of the capital," Rice said.

Reuters reported that at today's meeting in Nice, NATO defense ministers could announce a long-awaited expansion of NATO-led security operations in western Afghanistan.

Also attending today's NATO meeting in the French Riviera resort will be Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.