US Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Canada for NATO talks on training the local armed forces in southern Afghanistan and fighting the drug trade.

The meeting on Friday is to include representatives from the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, Estonia, Romania, Denmark and the Netherlands, which together make up 90 percent of the 18,000 foreign soldiers stationed in the south of the country under NATO command.

A senior defense official said that training of Afghan security forces is on the agenda for the talks, adding that the need for financing for the effort has risen to 17 billion dollars.

The expanding Afghan army is expected to reach its goal of 134,000 soldiers by the end of 2011. It currently has 68,000 soldiers.

Gates also hopes to discuss with his counterparts ways that they can shore up commitments to stem opium sales, after NATO talks in Budapest saw ministers agree to tackle the heroine trade that funds the insurgent Taliban in seven southern provinces.

"The secretary will be anxious to hear from other ministers what they are doing to implement the commitment they made in Budapest. The question now is moving from an agreement to implementing a strategy to address that," the official said on condition of anonymity.

NATO leads an almost 51,000-strong security force in Afghanistan, while some 20,000 more are under US command, but an increasingly sophisticated Taliban-led insurgency is undermining efforts to spread the Kabul government''s influence across the country.

The alliance has generally avoided tackling drugs, fearful of compromising its support from ordinary Afghans, including many poor farmers dependant on such crops for their livelihoods.