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NATO credibility at stake in Afghanistan: Blair

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says NATO's credibility is at stake in its operation in Afghanistan.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2006 08:43 IST

NATO's credibility is at stake in its operation in Afghanistan, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday, urging Britain's allies to make a greater effort to help defeat the Taliban.

British troops are on the frontline at the head of a NATO force in southern Afghanistan, and have suffered increasing casualties in recent months in the face of unexpectedly fierce resistance from Taliban fighters.

Blair, who visited British forces there on Monday, told Britain's lower House of Commons that he would raise the issue of so-called "national caveats" at a NATO summit in Latvia next week.

Conservative opposition leader David Cameron suggested that such restrictions on the use of some countries' troops and equipment in the operation effectively left the NATO force fighting "with one arm tied behind its back".

"We do raise the issue of the caveats the entire time. Several countries, for reasons to do with their own politics, are reluctant to remove them," Blair responded in his weekly question and answer session with lawmakers.

"However, what we will be saying is even if they retain some caveats on the deployment of their forces particularly in a fighting situation that nonetheless there is much more that could be done for example to give support to reconstruction and redevelopment."

Blair put Afghanistan at the heart of the West's "war on terror" on Monday and told British troops that their desert battles with the Taliban would decide the future of world security.

First Published: Nov 23, 2006 08:43 IST