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Gates wants to add to U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan

November 22, 2008|Associated Press

CORNWALLIS, NOVA SCOTIA — U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Friday that he would like to send more American forces to the war in Afghanistan before national elections scheduled for next year, and that grim depictions of the 7-year-old war are "far too pessimistic."

Gates said additional forces would provide greater security and predicted that conditions would "be under enough control to allow the elections to take place" in the fall.

"Everyone knows we face significant challenges in Afghanistan, as does the Afghan government," Gates said.

President Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's U.S.-backed leader, has said he intends to seek another term. The Taliban is expected try to disrupt registration and voting.

Gates, speaking alongside leaders from other nations with significant fighting forces in Afghanistan's heavily contested south, said the United States has not decided the timing of additional brigades beyond one planned for January.

The U.S. has more than 30,000 troops in Afghanistan. There also are more than 30,000 troops from other NATO countries and allies.

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