Turkey's Kurd plans overshadow Nato summit

The looming crisis on Turkey’s border with Iraq is likely to dominate a Nato defence ministers summit starting today.

The looming crisis on Turkey’s border with Iraq is likely to dominate a Nato defence ministers summit starting today.

American demands for its European allies to do more in Afghanistan are also expected to feature strongly.

Although not on the official agenda, the situation on Turkey’s south-eastern frontier risks overshadowing the two-day gathering in the Netherlands.

Turkey’s Nato allies have expressed solidarity following a surge in attacks by Kurdish rebels, but have also urged restraint as the Turks consider retaliatory attacks on Kurdish bases over the border in Iraq.

The Nato meeting comes amid intense diplomatic efforts to avert a Turkish offensive, which Western nations fear could destabilise one of the most settled parts of Iraq.

On Afghanistan, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates will push European allies to deploy more troops, putting the focus on military training teams that allied commanders see as vital to an eventual exit strategy for international forces.

He is also expected to seek helicopters, transport planes and rapid deployment troops to fill shortfalls in Nato’s 40,000-strong Afghan force.

Mr Gates criticised some European members of Nato on Monday for failing to provide the extra troops that their governments promised last year for the force.

“I am not satisfied that an alliance whose members have over two million soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen cannot find the modest additional resources that have been committed for Afghanistan,” he said.

As part of efforts to fill gaps, ministers will consider a plan to lease transport helicopters from private companies, possibly from Ukraine or Russia.

America wants its allies to more than double the approximately 20 teams of embedded trainers serving with Afghan army units. Nato commanders say such teams are key to preparing local forces to gradually take over from international forces.

Russia’s defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov will join the Nato talks tomorrow when differences over Kosovo and proposed US anti-missile bases in Eastern Europe are expected to loom large.

Allies are expected to pledge to maintain Nato’s 16,000 peacekeepers in Kosovo at full strength over the coming months as the province threatens to defy Serbian opposition and declare independence before the end of the year.

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