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Afghanistan security slipping, help urged

  |   Feb. 6, 2008 at 8:15 PM
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- The escalating violence in Afghanistan has top officials calling for an increased international effort to return stability to the region.

Official expect U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to call for more NATO forces in Afghanistan when he attends the defense ministers meeting in Lithuania Wednesday where 26 NATO-affiliated defense ministers are expected to discuss the alliance's missions around the world, the American Forces Press Service reported.

Pentagon officials says Gates will urge NATO members "to do their part to make sure all of the commanders' outstanding military requirements (in Afghanistan are fulfilled)," Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement. "Success in Afghanistan is essential, not just to our security here, but Europe's as well."

Pentagon officials estimate that there is currently about a 4,000-troop shortfall for Afghanistan missions.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group is also calling for increased attention from the international community concerning the threats in Afghanistan. Officials say the growing insurgency from the Taliban and other militants is a failure of not addressing the root causes of violence.

"Six years after the Taliban's ouster, the international community lacks a common diagnosis of what is needed to stabilize the country as well as a common set of objectives," writes the Crisis Group in a new report.

"Long-term improvement of institutions is vital for both state building and counter-insurgency, but without a more strategic approach, the increased attention and resources now directed at quelling the conflict could even prove counterproductive by furthering a tendency to seek quick fixes."

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