Bush pledges more troops for NATO Afghan force
By Andrew Gray
MUSCAT (Reuters) - President George W. Bush pledged at a NATO summit to provide a "significant" number of extra U.S. troops to the alliance mission in Afghanistan in 2009, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday.
Bush told alliance leaders about the expected troop boost when they discussed Afghanistan in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Thursday, Gates told reporters on his plane as he flew from the summit to the Gulf state of Oman.
"The president indicated that he expected in 2009 that the United States would make a significant additional contribution," Gates said.
Bush leaves office in January 2009. But Gates said the war in Afghanistan against Taliban insurgents enjoyed broad political support in the United States and he expected the next president would honor the pledge.
"I believe this is one area where there is very broad bipartisan support in the United States for being successful and I think that no matter who is elected they will want to be successful in Afghanistan," Gates said.
The United States is the biggest contributor to NATO's 47,000-strong force in Afghanistan, with around 17,000 troops.
Gates said it was too soon to say how many more U.S. troops may go to Afghanistan or define their role or likely location.
Washington has urged allies to redouble their efforts in Afghanistan in the face of rising violence there. Continued...