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European Security Group Approves Afghan Deployment

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2005 – A regional European security organization agreed today to deploy its forces to Afghanistan for a six-month peacekeeping mission, according to a statement released by the group.

The Southeastern European Defense Ministerial has been meeting here Dec. 5 and today. This marks the first time SEDM has held its annual conference in the United States. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is hosting the event.

During today's morning meetings, all of the group's ministers voted to support the Southeastern Europe Brigade's upcoming mission in Afghanistan, the statement said.

NATO had asked SEDM if it would provide troops to assume the mission as the headquarters of the Kabul Multinational Brigade of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. The brigade is now slated to begin a six-month tour in Afghanistan in February.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine was formally admitted into SEDM, joining Italy, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia. The United States helped develop SEDM, established in 1996, to promote peace and stability and enhance regional security cooperation in southeastern Europe. Some SEDM members, like Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, as well as the United States, also are NATO members.

The Washington SEDM conference provides an opportunity for visiting defense ministers to discuss issues such as counterproliferation, border security, peacekeeping and upcoming regional exercises, according to DoD officials.

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