Macedonia pledges to send more troops to Afghanistan

13:55, December 03, 2009      

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Macedonian President Gjorgje Ivanov said on Wednesday that his country would send additional 80 troops to Afghanistan from February next year.

Ivanov made the commitment in a letter to his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama after Obama announced that the United States would send an extra 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

"Macedonia highly appreciates your role and huge contribution to providing for a safer and more democratic world," Ivanov said in the letter in regard to the new U.S. Afghanistan strategy.

Ivanov said that Macedonia has demonstrated its solidarity and commitment to the joint mission in Afghanistan since the beginning, and that Macedonia will stay with the United States until the very end.

Macedonia has participated in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan since 2002. The small western Balkan country now has 163 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan.

"Macedonia reaffirms its commitment to the NATO values and goals and practically acts as its member. I am certain that day when Macedonia will join the Euro-Atlantic family is not far away," Ivanov said.

Macedonia's NATO aspirations were thwarted at the club's Bucharest summit last year over a name dispute between Macedonia and its southern neighbor Greece.

Athens has been opposed to Macedonia's name for the past 18 years, arguing that the name implicates territorial claims toward Greece's own northern province of the same name.

Source: Xinhua
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