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US: Curbs on NATO troops easing

WASHINGTON -- The United States has been making progress with NATO allies in a "continuing battle" over restrictions on their troops deployed in Afghanistan, a top State Department official said yesterday.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said troops from Canada, Britain, and the Netherlands, along with the United States, have been doing most of the fighting in Afghanistan, and he said it is time for the other 22 allied countries to do more.

"It is right for us to ask the other allies to make a greater effort to remove the military restrictions so that everybody can be called upon to make the kind of sacrifices that need to be made," Burns told reporters.

He welcomed indications at yesterday's NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels that some allies are willing to end or at least ease restrictions on their troops in Afghanistan.

Burns noted that the parliaments of some countries, Germany included, have placed "very detailed conditions" on their troop deployments.

"What we're saying is there should be no caveats, no restrictions whatsoever on the use, the tactical use, of NATO forces inside Afghanistan," he said.