Finland plans to increase the number of its troops in the NATO-led ISAF operation in Afghanistan.
A group of 16 - 18 soldiers and three civilian experts are to be sent to the Maimana region in the northern part of Afghanistan. They are to join a British-Nordic reconstruction team of 71 people with the task of monitoring the development of the situation there, and organising reconstruction in the region.
President Tarja Halonen and the government’s committee on security policy decided in a joint meeting on Friday that up to 20 - 30 soldiers or civilian experts could be sent to take part in reconstruction in Northern Afghanistan.
The UN expanded its ISAF operation outside the Afghan capital Kabul. So far one German-led reconstruction team has operated in Northern Afghanistan.
Kabul now has 62 Finnish soldiers and six airport firefighters.
The Finnish government also decided to authorise sending up to five more police officers to Jordan to help train Iraqi police officers. There are currently five Finnish police trainers taking part in the British-coordinated programme.
Finland is preparing to send more peacekeepers to Bosnia once the NATO-led SFOR operation is shifted over to the European Union. A total of 7,000 EU soldiers go to Bosnia, in a British-led operation.
The government did not yet make a decision on Friday on how many Finnish soldiers would be sent to Bosnia, because the assessment of the needs of the EU is still under preparation.
Finland has long prepared for the possibility of sending a few officers to Sudan, where the UN says the world’s worst humanitarian disaster is taking place.
A rapid deployment force for use by the UN is to be sent to Sudan. Its staff includes a few Finnish officers. However, no peace agreement has been reached in the country, and on Friday the government was not able to take a stand on taking part in a Sudan operation.
The Central Brigade of the NATO-led multinational KFOR operation in Kosovo is getting a new Finnish commander. President Halonen has appointed Brigadier General Antti Lankinen to the post.