Canada "confident" that NATO will boost troops in Afghanistan

Other News Materials 2 April 2008 23:30 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday he was "very confident" that his NATO allies would provide more troops to Afghanistan.

Canada has faced much of the brunt of the fighting against the Taliban and has threatened to pull its troops out of Afghanistan's dangerous south unless others are willing to do more.

But speaking on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Bucharest, Harper said he was now "very optimistic".

"Whether it is at this summit or in the weeks to come ... we've had good discussions with allies. We are very confident," Harper said.

France, Poland and the Czech Republic are among the countries that have expressed their willingness to boost the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, which can currently count on about 43,250 soldiers.

Canada, which has lost around 80 nationals in Afghanistan, wants others to provide at least 1,000 more.

Harper was at an event in Bucharest which was also attended by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

NATO's Afghan mission was expected to come under scrutiny by NATO leaders during the second day of their summit Thursday.