Fogh suggests more troops in Afghan

LONDON: NATO's new Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen insisted Friday that more troops were needed in Afghanistan if the alliance was to complete a successful handover of security to local forces.

NATO would need to step up military efforts in the coming years as well as boosting civil reconstruction, Rasmussen told BBC radio from Kabul.

"Honestly speaking, I think we need more troops," the former Danish prime minister said.

"I have seen progress in the south, not least thanks to the increase in the number of troops. So definitely the number of troops matters.

"However, we also have to realise that there is no military solution solely.

"We have to provide the Afghan people with better life opportunities as well if we are to win hearts and minds, and this will be at the core of our new strategy.

"In a few weeks' time, our commanders in the field will provide us with an updated assessment of the situation and based on that, we will take the necessary decisions to proceed," he said.

Rasmussen took over as NATO secretary general from former Dutch foreign minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer earlier this month. He is making his maiden visit as NATO chief to Afghanistan which he has declared a priority since taking office.

"We have to realise that in the coming months and years, we must step up our endeavours both as far as military efforts are concerned and as far as civil reconstruction is concerned," he said.

"My criterion of success is that we can hand over gradually the responsibility for security to the Afghans themselves," he added.