Italy will send around 1,000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan as part of U.S. President Barack Obama''s planned troop surge, Italian Defense Minister Ignacio La Russa said in an interview published Thursday.

Responding to Italian media reports that Italy would send 1,500 men, La Russa told Corriere della Sera newspaper: "That is just a hypothesis, a maximum quota which we would never reach ... We are below that figure."

He said an exact number would be agreed in the coming days at a meeting between Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Asked if the actual figure was likely to be around 1,000, he replied: "Yes, I''d say so."