Norway to contribute F-16 fighter jets to NATO-led force in Afghanistan

Norway will contribute F-16 fighter jets to the NATO-led force in Afghanistan in an effort to improve security for the peacekeepers, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Friday. Stoltenberg said Norway is also planning to send more soldiers to the NATO-led force, which now includes more than 9,000 troops, including about 330 Norwegians, and is expected to add up to 6,000 more as it expands operations into volatile southern Afghanistan next year.

"So far we have decided to increase our presence by deploying F-16 fighters," Stoltenberg told a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai following their meeting.

He said the fighter jets, to be deployed early next year, would "create security" for the peacekeepers. "We need the fighter planes to make it easier for the forces on he ground to do their job," he said.

Stoltenberg did not say how many F-16s Norway would contribute. Norway's foreign minister said last month that the country would send three or four of the planes to Afghanistan, reports the AP. I.L.

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