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    Robert Gates hints at five more brigades for Afghan 'surge'

    Toronto (IANS): US Defence Secretary Roberts Gates has hinted that five more combat brigades were likely to be sent to Afghanistan early next year to fight the resurgent insurgency.

    Speaking at a two-day informal meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) defence ministers at the Canadian city of Cornwallis Friday, Gates said these brigades will be in addition to the extra marine brigade already sent to the region.

    Gates said the defence ministers discussed the proposed troop surge in Afghanistan before the presidential elections in that country next year.

    "We are clearly going to be putting more troops in and I think that the prospects for being able to have these elections successfully are good,"said Gates.

    Though intelligence reports say insurgency and violence in Afghanistan have reach record levels since 2001, Gates said: "The notion that things are out of control in Afghanistan or that we're sliding toward a disaster I think is far too pessimistic."

    Welcoming the proposed US surge in Afghanistan, Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay urged President-elect Barak Obama to seek more troops from other NATO countries for the mission.


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