Italy to post 500-700 troops in Afghanistan after draw down

'We can't turn our backs on this country'

Italy to post 500-700 troops in Afghanistan after draw down

Herat, June 20 - Between 500 and 700 Italian troops will stay on in western Afghanistan after the NATO-led ISAF mission concludes at the end of 2014, the defence ministry said Thursday. Italian Defence Minister Mario Mauro was in Herat meeting with his Afghan counterpart Dismillah Mohammadi, and his German counterpart Thomas De Maiziere, whose country foresees an 800-troop commitment in northern Afghanistan. At the meeting, Mauro said parliament would review and then vote on Italy's position in the country. "We can't turn our backs on this country if we don't want the atrocious dictatorship of the past to return," he said. De Maiziere emphasized that first an accord was necessary between NATO and Afghanistan "on what coalition troops can and cannot do". The Italian contingent now has about 3,100 units. After the current mission ends Italy says it intends to continue its engagement by assisting and training Afghan troops. The new mission, says the defence ministry, will be non-combat and will not include fighting against insurgents, nor against terrorism and drug trafficking. Coalition forces currently train, mentor and fight alongside Afghan troops.

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