Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked hesitant NATO leaders today to rush troops to his country for protecting officials who try to register voters for coming national elections.
Extra troops promised by NATO should be sent immediately, he said, because violence was disrupting preparations for the vote, set for September, and threatening the country's shaky progress toward democracy, reports nytimes.com.
According to the abcnews.go.com, French President Jacques Chirac forcefully stated his opposition to any collective NATO presence on the ground in Iraq, suggesting it should limit its role to coordinating national efforts and training outside the country.
"I am completely hostile to the idea of a NATO establishment in Iraq," Chirac told a news conference. "It would be dangerous, counterproductive and misunderstood by the Iraqis, who after all deserve a little bit of respect."
American officials insisted the training program should be a centralized operation under a NATO command in Iraq, although they accepted that reluctant countries such as France and Germany could limit their contribution to training outside the country.
Maconareaonline.com reports, that NATO agreed Monday to add roughly 1,500 troops to its 6,500-strong peacekeeping force for the polls, but it has drawn criticism for restricting its deployment to Kabul and the relatively stable north of the violence-plagued country.
The alliance has tried to showcase its Afghan operation as proof it has transformed itself from a Cold War defense machine into a force for combating modern security threats such as terrorism far beyond its European and North American borders.