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NATO Leadership To Visit Southern Afghanistan

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (left) at a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on July 20 (epa) July 21, 2006 -- NATO's leadership is expected to continue a visit to Afghanistan today with a visit to the insurgency-troubled south of the country.

Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and NATO's military operations commander, U.S. General James Jones, were scheduled to briefly visit the southern provinces of Kandahar, Oruzgan, and Helmand.

NATO-led forces are due to take up security duties in the region at the end of this month.

The dangers that coalition forces face in southern Afghanistan were underlined during the day when the U.S. military announced that a July 20 rocket attack on a coalition bas in Sharan, the capital of Paktika Province, had killed one soldier. The U.S. military spokesman did not disclose the nationality of the dead soldier.

The Dutch contingent of NATO forces to be deployed in the south indicated today that a key element of its strategy will be "to win the hearts and minds" of Afghans. Captain Miriam Grandia said that the Dutch approach will include handing out Korans and running a local radio station.

A lack of resources has long been a concern of coalition officers, and that theme was highlighted again today by Lieutenant General David Richards, the British officer who will take command of forces in southern Afghanistan at the end of July. He said that a shortage of aircraft and reserves able to be deployed quickly reserves is preventing the alliance from doing its best in Afghanistan.

(AFP, Reuters)

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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