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US urges France to send more troops to Afghanistan

The US has asked France to send an additional 1,500 troops to join the coalition forces in Afghanistan as Washington is expected to send at least 30,000 more reinforcements.

On Monday, The daily Le Monde published a report on its website, saying US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the request on Thursday in a telephone call to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

The French Foreign Ministry has neither confirmed nor denied the report.

But the White House said Monday that President Barack Obama had called his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy to update him on plans prior to the US leader’s major speech on Tuesday outlining his Afghan war strategy. During the speech, Obama is expected to announce the deployment of 30,000 more US troops in Afghanistan.

Sarkozy’s government has insisted that it has no plans to increase its Afghanistan contingent, which currently numbers 3,400 soldiers.

On Monday, Britain confirmed plans to send 500 more soldiers to Afghanistan in early December with its total contribution to the Afghan war amounting to 10,000 given the presence of special forces involved in training and civilian activities.

The surge comes amid mounting public pressure in the Western countries to bring the troops back home and allegations of ‘fatal’ shortages of equipment for troops along with questions over whether the ‘unwinnable’ campaign is worth the cost.

The US and Britain have been urging other NATO member states to help shoulder the burden of the war in Afghanistan, which remains engulfed in the flames of militancy despite more than eight years of foreign military presence.

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