LONDON, Nov 28: Nato is finding it increasingly difficult to mobilise enough troops from member countries to effectively tackle the resurgent Taliban. This seemed to have led Nato leaders to look for a high-powered international fixer to be appointed for Afghanistan to help to force through political reforms and anti-drug policies, sources said on the eve of the alliance’s summit in Riga.

We need someone of real standing who can go to President Karzai in Kabul and to President Musharraf in Pakistan and knock heads together, a senior diplomatic source said.

Nato leaders seem to want a High Representative playing a role, similar to the one played by Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon in Bosnia. We would like a real heavyweight like Paddy Ashdown, the source said.

Our problem is that we’re getting on with the security and reconstruction, but nobody has been appointed who can ensure that the Afghan government gets on with issues such as disarming the warlords, the source said.

Tony Blair and President George W. Bush were appealing to European allies — including Germany, France, Spain and Italy — to do more active fighting in Afghanistan’s danger hot spots at a Nato summit in the Latvian capital of Riga today.

The leaders of the war on terror are expected to urge alliance partners to provide more troops and equipment – and to switch forces into the Taliban-infested south where the United States, Britain, Canada, Estonia and the Netherlands are bearing the brunt of the death toll.

British and US sources were warning last night that without more troops in the south and east, and a fairer share-out of risk, Nato was courting defeat in one of the most crucial mission’s in its history.

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