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Italian Prime Minister Visits Afghanistan


Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi held talks with President Hamid Karzai during a visit to Afghanistan Sunday.

The Italian leader is also expected to travel to the western city of Herat to meet with Italian troops stationed in the area.

Italy has some 2,000 troops serving with NATO's International Security Assistance Force in the country.

Mr. Prodi's visit comes one day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made unannounced trips to Afghanistan.

Both leaders pledged long-term political, economic and military support for the war-torn country. Mr. Rudd announced plans to provide Afghanistan with nearly $95 million in economic aid.

Separately, local officials say Taliban militants killed seven hostages in the eastern province of Ghazni. Local Taliban commanders say the dead include at least two soldiers, a policemen and two civilians.

In other violence, police in the southeastern province of Khost say three Afghan civilians were killed Sunday in a roadside bombing.

Also, officials say U.S.-led coalition and Afghan security forces killed several Taliban insurgents Sunday in Uruzgan province.

Taliban militants have increased attacks over the past two years, despite continued efforts by U.S. and NATO forces to strengthen the government and end the insurgency.

The U.S. has urged its NATO allies to provide more support to Afghanistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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