U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is checking up on promises for continued support in the war in Afghanistan by checking in with NATO defense leaders in southeastern Europe.
NATO countries have been slow recently to meet needs for more coalition forces. NATO-led troops are in command of the southern portion of Afghanistan and are expected to take over the eastern section which U.S. troops now command later this year. U.S. military teams are working to train Afghanistan troops to take over the security of their country.
Meetings on Wednesday in the capital of Albania also will touch on military cooperation in the Balkans. Then Rumsfeld will travel to a NATO defense ministers meeting in Slovenia.
Albanian military officials declared their unequivocal support for U.S.-led efforts to fight terrorism. And Montenegro's prime minister said his small country would like to participate in peacekeeping operations. Albania has 120 troops in Iraq.
Both Albania and Montenegro are working to gain admission to NATO and other international groups, and the U.S. has pledged to support their efforts, reports AP.
Montenegro Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic made no firm commitment to supply troops to either Iraq or Afghanistan, but said his country "prepared to participate in the U.S.-led coalition in fighting terrorism."
Russian President Vladimir Putin got the West worried again by signing Decree No. 915. The news did not produce any public effect in Russia