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BRUSSELSAllies will deploy 5,000 more troops

European and other U.S. allies will contribute more than 5,000 additional troops to the international force in Afghanistan, NATO's chief said Wednesday, declaring that "this is not just America's war."

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke just hours after President Barack Obama announced the new deployment of 30,000 fresh U.S. troops to Afghanistan and called for additional commitments from America's NATO allies.

"In 2010, the non-U.S. members of this mission will send at least 5,000 more soldiers to this operation, and probably a few thousand more," Fogh Rasmussen told reporters.

This will be in addition to the 38,000 troops allied nations have there now, he said.

So far, only Britain, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey, Georgia, South Korea and tiny Montenegro have indicated a willingness to contribute more troops to the U.S.-led force in Afghanistan.

But Fogh Rasmussen expressed confidence that more countries would come forward at a conference at NATO's military headquarters in Mons, Belgium, on Monday.

"This is not just America's war, what is happening in Afghanistan poses a clear and present danger to the citizens of all our countries," Fogh Rasmussen said.

KABUL

Karzai silent on calls for reform in his government

President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday pledged to "spare no effort" to help implement the revamped American war strategy, the latest test for an Afghan leader emerging from a fraud-tainted election and seeking to counter widespread disillusionment among his own people.

But Karzai did not directly respond to the latest U.S. demands that he root out corruption in his government.

Some senior officials in Karzai's government expressed doubts about whether the Afghan army and police could be strengthened in time to accommodate a drawdown of foreign troops beginning in July 2011, the goal set by Obama.

"In 18 months we will not be able to grow (the security forces) as much as required given the security needs of the country," said Interior Minister Hanif Atmar, who met with the top American commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, shortly after Obama addressed the American people.

However, Atmar and other Afghan officials expressed hopes that the timetable laid out by the U.S. administration would help provide momentum for building up Afghanistan's police and army, and they noted Obama's assurances that the American drawdown would be a phased one, tied to conditions on the ground.

McChrystal also met Wednesday with Karzai and described him as "very upbeat, very resolute" about implementing the Obama plan.

But Karzai was largely silent in response to Obama's demand for reforms in the Afghan government, a refrain that has been sounded repeatedly by senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who traveled to Afghanistan last month for Karzai's inauguration to a second term.

In a statement issued 12 hours after Obama's speech, the presidential palace said the Karzai administration would work toward "strengthening of the Afghan government in law enforcement" but said nothing about promised efforts to crack down on graft and bribery.

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN

Cautious response, call for clarity from Pakistan

Pakistan's government expressed confusion and concern Wednesday about President Obama's new Afghan strategy, which calls for Pakistan to step up its cooperation against terrorism in exchange for a pledge of a long-term partnership "after the guns fall silent."

The Pakistani Foreign Affairs Ministry waited nearly 12 hours after Obama's speech to issue a cautious response that stressed the "need for clarity" in the new U.S. policy and sought to "ensure that there would be no adverse fallout on Pakistan."

The Pakistani government is fearful that this country could be further destabilized by a reinvigorated military campaign in next-door Afghanistan. A growing tide of urban bombings and terrorist attacks have killed hundreds of people in Pakistan in the past several months.

A major worry is that the surge of 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will send thousands of Afghan insurgents fleeing into Pakistan and further disturb volatile areas.

KABUL

Taliban is betting on U.S. failure in Afghanistan

The Taliban rebuffed President Obama's new war plan for Afghanistan, saying his strategy to send 30,000 new troops will only lead to more American casualties.

In a statement, the Taliban said the Obama administration's plan was "no solution for the problems of Afghanistan" and would give insurgents an opportunity "to increase their attacks and shake the American economy, which is already facing crisis."

Obama only set a tentative pullout date for July 2011 to lessen the sensitivities of Afghans about the troop buildup and decrease the American public's opposition to the war, the Taliban statement said Wednesday.

"This stratagem will not pay off," it said, adding the surge will result in increased deaths of U.S. troops.

Information from the Associated Press and Washington Post was used in this report.

BRUSSELSAllies will deploy 5,000 more troops 12/02/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 10:50pm]
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