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Cabinet agrees to widen Afghanistan mission

THE SLOVAK Cabinet agreed on June 11 to send more peacekeepers to Afghanistan.

THE SLOVAK Cabinet agreed on June 11 to send more peacekeepers to Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Robert Fico said that NATO requested the increase and that the mission there conforms to international law, the SITA newswire wrote.

"It is not an adventure, like Iraq," he said.

He emphasised that Slovakia is not sending combat units, but military engineers and units that will guard camps and bases and will be able to operate there exclusively.

Parliament must approve any increase first, but Fico believes the proposal will earn support.
Exactly 246 Slovak soldiers will serve in Afghanistan in the near future. Approving the increase will fulfill Canada's request for more forces in the Kandahar province. Slovak peacekeepers have already been working with the Netherlands there.

Slovak soldiers will be deployed in a multi-functional military engineers unit, provincial reconstruction teams, operative and training teams, mission commands and in a guard unit. Slovakia plans to send a 50-strong guard unit this year to Camp Holland in the Uruzgan province and the Kandahar Air Base.

In mid-2009, another unit will embark on a mission to Camp Hadrian, also in the Uruzgan province. A maximum of six soldiers will be part of provincial reconstruction teams for the whole territory of the ISAF operation. Up to 15 soldiers from Slovakia will be in operative and training teams. Six will serve at ISAF commands.

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