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More International Peacekeepers Expected Soon in Afghanistan - 2001-12-26


More foreign peacekeeping troops are expected to be deployed in Kabul within the next few days. Afghanistan's new Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah made the announcement in Kabul Wednesday following a cabinet meeting of the new interim government.

Foreign Minister Abdullah said talks are continuing with foreign governments on the troop deployment and he said, he believes arrangements will be made soon. "It is progressing very well," he said. The details are under discussion at this moment. And it will be very soon."

Somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 troops are expected to be deployed eventually, but Mr. Abdullah said he could not give a timetable except to say he believes it will be days rather than weeks.

Representatives from several Afghan factions agreed at a meeting in Bonn to allow the deployment of an international peacekeeping force. But the size of the force and the role it will play have been under debate.

Mr. Abdullah provided no details of what role the international force would play saying only that it would assist Afghan troops in maintaining security. "The name suggests the role," the foreign minister said, "International Security Assistance Force - ISAF. This is their role. Their role will be to assist provide security with the cooperation of the interim government security forces."

A small contingent of British Royal Marines has already arrived in the capital and has been conducting motorized patrols of the city.

Britain is to lead the International Security Assistance Force for the first three months and contribute up to 1,500 men.

Foreign Minister Abdullah said the deployment would be organized according to the security needs of Afghanistan and would not necessarily be limited to Kabul.

Nations contributing to the force are due to meet in London on Thursday to work out the details of the force and the number of troops each country would send.

There are some 200 British Royal Marines deployed in the capital, but officials have acknowledged that additional troops are not expected to arrive before the end of the year.

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