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U.N. Votes to Expand Afghan Security

October 14, 2003|From Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council voted unanimously Monday to expand the 5,500-strong NATO-led force in Afghanistan to areas beyond the capital.

The vote, which had been expected, comes after Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the world body last month to deploy peacekeepers into lawless regions.

The Afghan government, which took over after a U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban militia, has little control in most of the country's 32 provinces, where governors often rule like warlords with private militias. Karzai warned that unless the world stepped up its reconstruction aid and sent more troops, Islamic radicals could regain control in Afghanistan.

"This resolution helps pave the way for the increased security in Afghanistan upon which nearly everything else is dependent," said John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and the council's president for October.

The 15-member council approved the decision in a speedy meeting Monday without debate, after NATO's secretary-general, George Robertson, sent Negroponte a letter seeking a vote on the German-drafted resolution.

Germany is set to seek parliamentary approval for an expanded International Security Assistance Force of 230 to 450 troops who would be deployed in the north.

"If this is successful, we hope that this is considered as a pilot project that could be copied in other parts of Afghanistan," Germany's U.N. ambassador, Gunter Pleuger, said after the meeting.

Taliban and Al Qaeda rebels have been launching increasingly bold assaults in recent months, raiding police stations, killing aid workers and confronting U.S. troops in growing numbers.

Many of the attacks have taken place in the south and east, near the border with Pakistan. Afghan and Western officials have long complained that the insurgents have found a haven in Pakistan, crossing the border frequently to launch attacks.

The NATO plan eventually envisions international troops being deployed to eight separate urban areas across the country, including Herat in the west, Kandahar in the south and Kunduz and Mazar-i-Sharif in the north. Once the cities are stabilized, the plan envisions linking the eight "islands" using mobile military units.

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