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NATO Talks Focus on Afghanistan, Alliance Expansion Plans


NATO foreign ministers have met in Brussels to discuss the need for more troops in Afghanistan, and the accession hopes of three Balkan nations.

Ahead of the talks, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said they are confident that NATO allies will provide enough troops for Afghanistan's troubled south.

Those comments follow threats by Canada to withdraw its troops from combat in southern Afghanistan if other NATO allies do not contribute more combat personnel.

Separately Thursday, the NATO ministers are quoted as voicing general support for the eventual accession of Croatia, Albania and Macedonia into the military alliance.

Secretary of State Rice said a decision on the three countries will not be made before a summit in Romania early next month.

Croatia is seen as the most likely to be invited to the April summit. However, European Union officials Thursday warned Croatia that a failure to settle its fishing rights dispute with Slovenia and Italy could jeopardize its accession into NATO.

Macedonia is facing a Greek threat to block its bid in a dispute about the former Yugoslav republic's name. Greece contends that the name Macedonia implies territorial claims on the northern Greek province of the same name.

Ukraine and Georgia are also hoping next month's summit will offer them a path to NATO membership, despite strong Russian opposition.


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

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