Nato heeds Bush call on Afghanistan

Nato nations agree to take measures in containing rising violence in Afghanistan.

    Nato soldiers are battling a resurgent Taliban

    Guarded pledge


    "The President [Jacques Chirac] confirmed the possibility, on a case-by-case basis and on request, to send French troops outside their zone if necessary," French officials said after talks in the Latvian capital Riga.


    Madrid's pledge was yet more guarded, with a Spanish official saying Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the prime minister, had offered use of Spanish helicopters in exceptional circumstances to help evacuate wounded Nato solders, and not for combat.


    France has a contingent in the capital Kabul and Spanish troops operate in the relatively calm west. Romano Prodi, the Italian prime minister, whose country also has soldiers in the west, said it would only move troops "in extremis".


    Asked whether it was a failure for the summit that four large countries had not completely lifted restrictions on their troops, known as caveats, Prodi said: "No, it's a clear position and it was an obvious position."


    The most urgent needs are in southern Afghanistan, the main battleground with resurgent Taliban fighters, where Canadian, British and Dutch soldiers have suffered heavy casualties.


    "To succeed in Afghanistan, Nato allies must provide the forces Nato military commanders require," Bush said just before the summit began in Riga, many of whose inhabitants had left town to avoid disruption caused by the tight security.


    "Member nations must accept difficult assignments if we expect to be successful," he said.


    One Nato official said Supreme Allied Commander James Jones estimated that 26,000 of the total 32,000 troops in the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force [ISAF] were now "more useable" as a result of restrictions being eased.


    He added that three nations had made initial pledges to send more troops, without giving details of how many or where they would go, and that several nations had pledged to raise their financial support for reconstruction in Afghanistan.


    Soldiers killed


    The Nato summit coincided with more violence in Afghanistan.


    Two Nato soldiers and an Afghan policeman were killed in a battery of attacks on Tuesday. Two other soldiers with the ISAF and five Afghans were wounded in the day's violence.


    The 37-nation ISAF did not release the nationalities of any of its casualties. It always waits for the home nations to make this  announcement.


    The soldiers who were killed were in a patrol that was blasted by an explosive device in Logar province, near the capital Kabul, the force said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    We travel more than 2,000km and visit communities along the route of the oil pipeline that cuts across Indigenous land.

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women married to ISIL fighters share accounts of being made to watch executions and strap explosives to other women.

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    The story of Ali Reza Monfared, the Iranian who tried to buy diplomatic immunity after embezzling millions of dollars.