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EU Gives Cautious Reception to Calls for Greater Role in Afghanistan


European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels offered a cautious reaction Monday to calls for the EU to increase its role in Afghanistan. Lisa Bryant has more from Paris on the issue, and on separate talks about EU peacekeeping in Bosnia.

Britain and the Netherlands have called on the European Union to assume responsibility for training Afghan police, and to help an overburdened NATO battle the Islamist insurgency in Afghanistan. But those calls are being greeted guardedly by other EU countries. Still, European foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters the EU would likely do more in Afghanistan in the future.

"As I said before, in Afghanistan were going to work to get coordinated action by the European Union, very likely on police preparation, police training in Afghanistan," said Javier Solana. "We have a lot of European Union engagement in Afghanistan, like Ive said in previous press conferences - economically, militarily and also on the rule of law. We would like to increase that, and we would like to see if that can be done in the foreseeable future."

EU officials say a fact-finding mission will visit Kabul in the near future to learn exactly what the country needs in terms of police and judicial assistance. President Bush holds a summit with NATO leaders later this month to discuss the problems facing Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, EU defense ministers, also meeting in Brussels Monday, postponed a decision to cut their 6,500 - member peacekeeping force in Bosnia, as some had predicted. Europe fears that tension in the Serbian province of Kosovo may spark unrest elsewhere in the Balkans, including Bosnia.

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