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US House Speaker meets Karzai

The Afghan President told Nancy Pelosi, leader of the US House of Representatives, that his security forces need strengthening.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2007 11:45 IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the leader of the US House of Representatives that his security forces need strengthening, as the two discussed possible US troop increases, an Afghan official said.

Karzai stressed his desire for increased training and equipment for Afghanistan's fledgling army and police forces, the Afghan official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information publicly.

Nancy Pelosi, a Californian Democrat, and Karzai discussed plans announced last week by the Bush administration to ask Congress for $10.6 billion for Afghanistan, a major increase aimed at rebuilding the country and strengthening government security forces still fighting the Taliban five years after the US-led invasion.

About $8.6 billion would be for training and equipping Afghan police and soldiers; $2 billion would go toward reconstruction.

Pelosi led a delegation of six other congressional Democrats to Afghanistan to meet with military and government leaders after traveling to Iraq and Pakistan.

The Pentagon last week said a brigade of US soldiers would stay in Afghanistan four months longer than planned -- an effective troop increase of 3,200 soldiers.

That announcement came only days after a visit here by US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates.

Pelosi, meanwhile, has led a drive in Congress against President George W Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq as part of a new security crackdown in Baghdad.

First Published: Jan 29, 2007 11:45 IST