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Britain plans extra troops for Afghanistan: Army

world Updated: Mar 27, 2009 20:06 IST

Britain's army chief has earmarked extra troops for Afghanistan, he said in an interview published Friday, as US President Barack Obama prepared to unveil a new strategy for the war there.

General Richard Dannatt, the chief of the general staff, told The Times newspaper that elements of 12 Mechanised Brigade had been "earmarked for Afghanistan".

He said there were no plans to send all the brigade's 4,000 troops, but the increase could take the total number to "somewhere in between" the 8,000 now deployed and the 12,000 that would result from the whole brigade being sent.

The Times cited anonymous defence sources as saying 1,700 to 2,000 extra troops for Afghanistan were seen as "the uppermost ceiling".

The move -- which is subject to approval by the government -- comes amid fears that the US-led mission will struggle without significant reinforcements, The Times said.

"We will have a discussion with the Americans next week in the course of the Prime Minister's bilateral meeting with President Obama on Wednesday," a spokesman for Brown's Downing Street office said.

"There will then be a further, wider discussion with Nato leaders on Friday at the NATO summit" in Strasbourg and Kehl, on the French-German border, he said. "Decisions necessarily must wait for those discussions to take place."

Obama is expected to announce his strategy for Afghanistan on Friday, after a two-month top-to-bottom review of the war effort.

Defence officials said the president was planning to send an extra 4,000 troops to train Afghan security forces later this year, on top of the 17,000 reinforcements to take on Taliban and allied insurgents announced last month.