Friday, December 4, 2009

NATO allies face U.S. pressure on Afghan troops

Washington's NATO allies face pressure on Thursday to commit more troops and money to the war in Afghanistan, supplementing President Barack Obama's announcement of an increase in U.S. troops.
European leaders have welcomed Obama's Afghanistan strategy, which includes sending 30,000 more U.S. troops to join the fight against a Taliban insurgency.
But they have been in less of a hurry to commit new forces to an uncertain, 8-year military campaign that is increasingly unpopular at home because of rising casualties. NATO foreign ministers will discuss the issue on Thursday and Friday.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Wednesday he expected U.S. allies to provide at least 5,000 extra troops and probably a few thousand more -- still short of the 10,000 troops and trainers Pentagon officials had sought.
NATO officials said about 1,500 of the 5,000 would be election reinforcements sent in earlier this year. At the same time, the Netherlands and Canada plan to withdraw combat forces of 2,100 and 2,800 in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

U.S. officials say Washington is now seeking up to 7,000 more troops from allies to supplement the U.S. increase. Italy said on Thursday it would send up to 1,000 more troops.

A senior U.S. official said the United States had put forward its views on what it believed other countries were capable of providing, either militarily or financially.
"The decision on whether they will is up to them," he said. "We expect that other allies will look very seriously at how they can contribute to that effort."
"This is the time to think about how we can do better, and perhaps do more, not the time to figure out how we can do less."

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