Cornwallis (Nova Scotia, Canada), Nov.22 : Defence MInisters of NATO countries with troops in Afghanistan have said they're confident about elections taking place in that country next year despite a rise in violence.
According to the Globe and Mail, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) representatives said Friday that a planned "surge" in troops from the United States, along with greater training of Afghan security forces, will help stabilize Afghanistan's outhern provinces by spring and summer.
"One of the things we talked about this morning was the desirability of trying to surge as many forces as we can prior to the election to try and provide a secure environment for the elections in Afghanistan," said U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
His remarks came following two days of informal talks at a conference centre on the southwestern shore of Nova Scotia. Defence Ministers from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands and Estonia were also present at the meeting. There were also representatives from Denmark and Romania.
There are growing concerns the spreading violence could threaten elections expected this summer if they become a flashpoint for ethnic and tribal feuds.
The Globe and Mail quoted a report Thursday that suggests registration of voters, particularly in the southern Pashtun areas, will be reduced if Afghan police aren't able to curb threats of violence.
Gates, however, said elections in early September 2009 will proceed.
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has repeatedly committed to send three or four additional brigades, creating a total of 20,000 more troops, into Afghanistan in 2009, as his new administration shifts focus away from what he's called the misbegotten Iraq war.