Poland will boost its military deployment to Afghanistan by 20 percent to help secure elections in August and combat deteriorating security, Polish President Lech Kaczynski said on Wednesday.
Kaczynski was in Kabul on an unannounced visit to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai and some of the 1,600 Polish troops serving in the NATO-led force that is helping to fight an insurgency waged by Al-Qaeda-linked extremists.“We are increasing our troops by 20 percent, especially direct combat troops,” he told a joint news conference with Karzai in remarks translated from Polish. “I’ll sign that strategy after I return.”
Poland, a member of NATO, said last month it planned to send 400 more troops to Afghanistan by mid-April, partly to help secure the August presidential election, but the decision was awaiting a final go-ahead from the president. Kaczynski’s announcement of a 20 percent boost in numbers would mean an extra 320 soldiers.
Kaczynski said the troops were also necessary because of “deteriorating” security in the eastern province of Ghazni, where Polish troops are working with their US counterparts.The president was due in Ghazni after talks with Karzai on a one-day trip to Afghanistan, his first to the strife-torn nation.