Prague close to agreement with US over increasing military presence in Afghanistan

The Czech Republic is very close to reaching agreement with the United States on increasing its military presence in Afghanistan, Czech Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová told reporters. The deployment of around 100 elite Czech troops would come on top of missions approved by the Czech Parliament last autumn, under which over 400 Czech soldiers were sent to Afghanistan.

Czech special units have already taken part in several missions in the war-torn state; two weeks ago the first Czech soldier was killed, in a suicide bombing. Minister Parkanová said if the Czech government and parliament approve the new deployment, the Czech troops will come under the US operation Enduring Freedom, not NATO. She said Czech and US officials had been conducting intensive negotiations in recent days.

Under the plan, the new contingent would take part in operations in dangerous parts of southern or eastern Afghanistan. Prague has also sent a Provincial Reconstruction Team to Logar province.

Author: Ian Willoughby