Nato pledges more troops for Afghanistan

Alliance to send 7,000 new forces

Nato pledges more troops for Afghanistan

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at a press conference at the alliance headquarters in Brussels, on Friday. AFP

At a news conference, Rasmussen said the injection of a total of 37,000 American and allied forces into the fight against the Taliban next year would have a “powerful effect”, and he pledged that Afghanistan would not be allowed to “fall back into the hands” of what he called terrorists and extremists. “That is not going to happen,” he said.

Rasmussen was speaking after US President Obama sent his top diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to Europe to press sometimes balky Nato allies to contribute thousands of additional troops to his new strategy for turning the tide in the Afghanistan war.

Clinton acknowledged that some countries were confused by Obama’s plan to begin bringing home American troops in July 2011. But, she said , “over all, the response has been positive,” and that she would work to clear up doubts over the American timetable.
“I think there have been sort of misunderstandings about what that date meant,” Clinton said on Thursday to reporters during the flight to a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels. “Now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to get to 2011 and jump off a cliff; it means that we’re going to be as careful and deliberative as necessary.”

As the Nato deliberations began on Friday, Rasmussen sounded a similar cautious theme. “Of course there are no silver bullets, no magic solutions. It will still take more time, more commitment and more patience to reach our shared goal,” he said after a meeting with Clinton.

Nato foreign ministers had gathered here to discuss the new American strategy and its impact on the alliance. There are now about 40,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan, not counting the American forces, currently numbering 68,000 troops. Obama said on Tuesday that he planned to send 30,000 more American military personnel.

Britain has already pledged 500 more soldiers, while Italy, Poland, Georgia and Slovakia are sending new deployments, from a few dozen to 1,000 — bringing the total Nato commitment of additional forces to as many as 8,000 troops, according to a senior diplomat at Nato headquarters here.As he announced an additional 7,000 more Nato troops, Rasmussen said there would be “more to come” but did not say which nations would contribute.

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