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Britain Criticizes NATO Member's Troop Levels in Afghanistan


Britain's Defense Secretary John Hutton sharply criticized fellow NATO members, saying they should not expect the United States to shoulder the main weight of combat responsibilities in Afghanistan.

Speaking in London, Hutton called on European allies to send more troops to battle Taliban insurgents. He said NATO is an alliance, but that is not apparent if one looks at member-nation's disproportionate commitments in Afghanistan.

The United States has about 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, and U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is expected to send up to 30,000 more troops to the country.

Britain is the second-largest contributor to NATO forces there, with more than 8,000 troops. The vast majority are deployed in the volatile southern province of Helmand.

Most other European troops are stationed in non-combat zones, leaving U.S., British and Canadian troops to patrol restive areas.

Canada has about 2,700 troops serving in NATO-led operations in Afghanistan.

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

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