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NATO to add 7,000 troops to Afghan effort

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by MziziMkavu, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. MziziMkavu

    MziziMkavu JF-Expert Member

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    Clinton acknowledges ‘our people are weary of war’ but prods allies for help


    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 3, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Afghanistan.

    Dec. 4, 2009

    BRUSSELS - While acknowledging "our people are weary of war," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told her NATO counterparts Friday that an infusion of allied troops in Afghanistan is crucial to turning the tide in a war that has been deteriorating for years.

    Before Clinton spoke, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark told reporters at NATO headquarters that at least 25 countries would provide an estimated 7,000 more troops in Afghanistan in 2010, "with more to come." And he said the 44 countries now involved are "absolutely united" in their commitment to seeing the eight-year war through to a successful outcome.

    "The strongest message in the room today was solidarity," he said. "Nations are backing up their words with deeds."

    U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis, the top NATO and U.S. commander in Europe, said in an Associated Press interview during a break in the talks that he believes several thousand non-U.S. troops may be contributed next year, in addition to the 7,000 cited by Fogh Rasmussen.

    "What we are all underlining to potential troop contributors is that we are truly asking for emphasis in the training area," Stavridis said. "And what I'm hearing is that we'll get very good responses."

    Clinton: ‘Urgent’ need
    Clinton told allied foreign ministers that it was essential that contributions to the war effort be provided as quickly as possible. She thanked Italy and Britain for their announcements of new troop contributions and said non-military assistance is equally important.

    "The need for additional forces is urgent, but their presence will not be indefinite," she told the North Atlantic Council, NATO's highest political council.

    She cited President Barack Obama's pledge on Tuesday to begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011.

    "At that time, we will begin to transfer authority and responsibility to Afghan security forces removing combat forces from Afghanistan over time with the assurance that Afghanistan's future, and ours, is secure," Clinton said, according to a copy of her prepared remarks to the closed-door meeting.

    "The pace, size, and scope of the drawdown will be predicated on the situation on the ground. If things are going well, a larger number of forces could be removed from more areas. If not, the size and speed of the drawdown will be adjusted accordingly."

    In his remarks to reporters, Fogh Rasmussen made a similar point.

    "Transition (to Afghan control) does not mean exit," he said.

    ‘Our people are weary of war’
    Clinton acknowledged the sacrifice, in blood and treasure, that many allied countries have paid in Afghanistan over the past eight years.

    "Today, our people are weary of war," she said. "But we cannot ignore reality. The extremists continue to target innocent people and sow destruction across continents. From the remote mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, they plot future attacks. As Secretary General Rasmussen said earlier this week, `This is our fight, together.' And we must finish it together."

    She thanked Italy for its announcement that it will send another 1,000 troops, and for Britain's pledge of another 500.

    "I look forward to discussing further commitments with many of you today and in the coming days," she said. "Additional troops, enhanced support for the vital training mission, and added civilian assistance will help deny al-Qaida a safe haven, reverse the Taliban's momentum, and strengthen the capacity of the Afghans to take responsibility for their own security."