NATO Commits More Troops to Afghanistan
4 Apr 09 | PTV
US President Barack Obama says there is a “concrete commitment” by NATO allies to deploy 5,000 extra troops and trainers to Afghanistan.
“An attack on one is an attack on all. And from that foundation we forged one of the strongest alliances in history,” Obama said in the opening of his speech Saturday at the end of the Strasbourg summit — which marked the 60th anniversary of the alliance.
The US-led war in Afghanistan, which has been subject to widespread criticism, was the focus of the two-day summit co-hosted by France and Germany.
During his address, Obama blamed the failures of the first real NATO mission beyond the boundaries of Europe on the lack of much-need resources.
According to the American president, Washington has reviewed it strategy in Afghanistan and has come up with a new comprehensive approach.
He said that while new deployments were necessary to ensure security during the presidential polls in Afghanistan in August, trainers were just as important in enhancing the capabilities of the Afghan police and easing the current pressures on foreign troops.
Obama did not elaborate on whether the 3,000 to 5,000 extra troops would include replacements and whether the deployment was likely to last beyond the elections, saying the media would later be briefed by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The Obama announcement was made following a joint press conference by NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“I am gratified to know that NATO has proved here its capability to act. We have been given a new mandate to work on a new strategic concept, we have agreed on an Afghanistan strategy, and we are reviving the NATO-Russia Council…,” said Merkel.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, for his part, praised his US counterpart and said he showed great leadership and commitment during his meetings with world leaders at the 60th anniversary event.
He seemed, however, ruffled by a question on whether Europe was afraid of the growing Americanization of the Afghan war and the rising US influence in the alliance.
“I would like to pay a tribute to [your] sense of humor…The US president has just submitted the new US strategy which confers everything that the Europeans have been asking for years now, and this may be provocative, but this [strategy] has always been what the Europeans have championed,” Sarkozy replied.