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No Shortage of International Troops for Afghan Peacekeeping, says Powell - 2001-12-06

US Secretary of State Colin Powell says an international peacekeeping force will soon be sent to Afghanistan and that plenty of troops will be available. He spoke Thursday at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

Secretary of State Powell said details of the force are yet to be worked out, and talks are underway with the United Nations and other parties about its mandate and mission. He told a news conference that plenty of troops will be available. "What has impressed me so greatly [is] the number of countries who have stepped forward and said they are willing to contribute troops to such a force," said Mr. Powell. "There will be no shortage of troops. Getting the right mix and determining the leadership of this force has yet to be sorted out."

Many nations have offered troops, including Britain, France, Germany and Italy, but few have seen action. In an apparent effort to ease frustrations among some allies, Secretary Powell said the circumstances of the campaign mean that not every ally is fighting in Afghanistan, but every ally is in the fight against terrorism.

Mr. Powell also urged NATO to expand its contacts with Central Asian nations. He said the world has changed, and NATO matters now more than ever.

NATO foreign ministers reaffirmed their support for the war on terrorism, saying they would fight this scourge for as long as necessary.

The alliance said NATO members stand ready individually and collectively behind the US-led military operation against those responsible for the September 11th attacks in the United States.