Poland Expected to Send Additional 400 Troops to Afghanistan

Poland's government is expected to send 400 additional troops to its mission in Afghanistan, a move of increased importance amid destabilization in neighboring Pakistan, the nation's defense minister said Friday.

Some 1,200 Polish troops already serve as part of the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. Earlier this month the country pledged to strengthen that force with more troops and eight helicopters.

Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said Friday that President Lech Kaczynski -- the supreme commander of the armed forces -- has proposed that 400 troops be sent at the end of April.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Donald Tusk is expected approve the plan.

Klich said the need to strengthen the force was highlighted by the assassination on Thursday of Pakistani opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

"The situation in Pakistan and the danger of the destabilization spreading in the region, also into Afghanistan, is forcing us to strengthen the mission," Klich said.

Poland is also planning to send some 350 troops to Africa as part of a European Union mission to protect refugees in Chad.

Warsaw has announced it is pulling its 900 troops out of the U.S.-led mission in Iraq by late 2008.