Sunday, April 5, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama is pleased with NATO Allies' pledges of Afghan support

April 4, 2009 - CNN News

President Obama hailed the NATO Summit in Strasbourg-Kehl on Saturday, calling the meeting “very productive” and praising the Alliance’s commitment to the fight in Afghanistan.

“Today I’m confident that we took a substantial step forward to renewing our alliance to meet the challenges of our time,” said President Obama.

Speaking to reporters as demonstrators protested against more involvement in Afghanistan, President Obama said he was “pleased NATO Allies pledged their strong and unanimous support” for America's new strategy in Afghanistan – which calls for more troops, trainers and civilian workers.

He said America’s NATO Allies and Partners have agreed to supply more combat troops to help shore up security during Afghan elections later this year.

More trainers have also been pledged for the police and army, and an expansion of a trust fund to help sustain Afghan security forces is in the works. President Obama talked about achieving an increase in non-military assistance, such as doctors, engineers, educators and agricultural specialists.

The United States’ NATO Allies are pledging 5,000 more troops: 3,000 for the upcoming Afghan election security, 1,400 to 2,000 troops embedded with Afghan soldiers, and 400 police trainers.This is apart from the 17,000 more combat troops and 4,000 trainers President Obama recently committed.

“These commitments have troops, trainers and civilians represent a strong down payment on the future of our mission in Afghanistan and on the future of NATO.”

President Obama had been pushing for more NATO troops in Afghanistan, and he was asked whether he thought he got enough combat troops.

“This was not a pledging conference, and yet, we already received the kinds of commitments that historically you don’t see at a conference like this,” President Obama said.

“This was at a summit that was designed to discuss strategy as opposed to attract pledges, and I think it’s an indication of the fact that this alliance is committed to achieving the focused goals that we have set out in Afghanistan.’

Along with the focus on the ground in Afghanistan, Preseident Obama said the United States and his Allies want to help strengthen Pakistan’s ability to fight al Qaeda and “deliver goods and services and a better life for its people.”

President Obama thanked French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for hosting the conference.

‘I should add that not only were they gracious hosts, but the commitment that they made with respect to Afghanistan, indicate the seriousness of purpose with which they are approaching the NATO challenge and our mission in Afghanistan in particular,’ President Obama said.

Noting that Saturday marked NATO’s 60th birthday, President Obama said, “It’s a measure of our vitality that we are still welcoming new members.”

After the conclusion of the Summit Saturday, President Obama headed to Prague, in the Czech Republic, the current president of the European Union.

In Prague, President Obama plans to make a speech on proliferation and ridding the world of nuclear weapons. As many as 30,000 people were expected to turn out for the speech, the first major foreign policy address of President Obama’s presidency.

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