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Norway wants to double US troops and deploy them closer to Russia

AFP  |  Oslo 

will ask the to double the number of US troops stationed in the country and deploy them nearer the border with Russia, the government said today.

The announcement came after nine nations along NATO's eastern flank called Friday for the alliance to bolster its presence in their region.

Since last year, 330 US Marines have been deployed on rotation at Vaernes in the centre of Norway, despite loud protests from

said it wants to boost the troop numbers to 700 and station them further north at Setermoen, 420 km from

The US deployment agreement would also be extended from the current six-month renewable periods to five years.

"The defence of depends on the support of our NATO allies, as is the case in most other NATO countries," said in a statement.

"For this support to work in times of crises and war, we are are totally dependent on joint training and exercises in times of peace," he added.

Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and had Friday called for NATO to discuss an increased military presence in their region at next month's leaders' summit in

The group said it was necessary to supplement NATO's current ground forces "with aerial and naval components" NATO beefed up defences in central and in response to growing fears about Russia, following Moscow's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The Russian embassy in could not be contacted Tuesday for comment, but last year it criticised repeatedly the deployment of US forces in

said that if the new deployment went ahead "there will still be a respectful distance with the Russian border".

"But we can't see any serious reason why should react, even if we expect it will again this time since it always does about the allied exercises and training." To ease Moscow's concerns, before becoming a founder member of NATO in 1949, gave a commitment not to station foreign troops on its soil unless it was under threat of attack.

The government says it still follows that commitment noting that the troop presence is not permanent but rotational.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, June 12 2018. 21:20 IST