NATO chief: allies will prevail in Afghanistan

AP News
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Posted: Dec 04, 2009 3:54 AM

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Friday the allies will prevail in their bid to stabilize Afghanistan but only if they answer President Barack Obama's call for more allied troops on the ground.

The year 2010 will bring "a new momentum" to the Afghanistan mission, Fogh Rasmussen told NATO foreign ministers, two days after Obama agreed to send 30,000 more American troops to the country and asked other NATO members to also add military muscle.

NATO officials said pledges from other nations have exceeded 5,000 troops. More than 20 nations are expected to make firm commitments at a force-generation conference on Monday or following the international conference on Afghanistan in January, he said.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters on arrival at the NATO meeting that all alliance members must "ask themselves whether they are doing the maximum possible ... to ensure success in Afghanistan."

"We know the stakes are very high indeed. So this is the time for all of the international community to make sure it steps up to support the efforts of governance in Afghanistan and Pakistan to ensure stability in that crucial part of the world," he added.

However, the prospect of more German troops appeared slim.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said his country was "ready to contribute to civilian reconstruction, especially police training (but) a debate that focuses only on 'how many troops' is in our view neither useful nor appropriate."

Fogh Rasmussen said eight years into the Afghan mission "it will still take more time, more commitment."

"The fact remains that what happens in Afghanistan has a direct impact on our own security. If this international effort is to succeed _ and it will _ it must be a true team effort," Fogh Rasmussen added.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she looked forward to an expected series of announcements by allied nations of additional military, civilian and financial support for the war effort in Afghanistan.

At the meeting with allied foreign ministers and with representatives of non-NATO countries with troops in Afghanistan, as well as Russia, she sought to sell President Barack Obama's revamped war strategy, which relies on major new allied contributions, not just to escalate the combat effort but also to bolster civilian functions and provide more development aid.

Allied governments need to be able to sell their publics on the idea of enlarging the war, and in particular countries in which political parties share power have to be sure "the political stars are in alignment" before they announce new commitments, Clinton said.