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Obama Urges Patience on Afghan Troop Decision

By Kent Klein
16 September 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama is urging patience as his administration considers whether to commit more troops to the conflict in Afghanistan. The president spoke after discussing Afghanistan and other issues with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the White House.

President Obama says he will take his time in deciding whether to deploy more troops for the Afghan war.

"There is no immediate decision pending on resources," he said. "Because one of the things that I am absolutely clear about is, you have to get the strategy right and then make determinations about resources."

The president spoke one day after the top U.S. military officer, Navy Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more U.S. troops probably would be needed in Afghanistan.

The U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Army General Stanley McChrystal, has said conditions in Afghanistan are deteriorating. He is expected to request thousands of additional troops.

After meeting with the Canadian leader in the Oval Office, Mr. Obama said he is continuing to discuss the issue with U.S. allies.

"My determination is to get this right," he said. "That means broad consultation, not only inside the U.S. government, but also with our ISAF partners and our NATO allies. And I am going to take a very deliberate process in making those decisions."

In the Oval Office, Prime Minister Harper said he does not worry that the Taliban could form an alternative government in Afghanistan, but that he is concerned about the Afghan government's ability to maintain security.

"Our emphasis in Canada for some time now, particularly since we extended our mission, has been the necessity of seeing the Afghan government accept and be able to handle greater responsibility for the day-to-day security of that country," he said.

And the Canadian leader again emphasized his country's commitment to helping stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan.

"Canada is not leaving Afghanistan," he said. "Canada will be transitioning from a predominately military mission to a mission that will be a civilian humanitarian development mission after 2011. That transition is already in place."

This was the seventh meeting of the two leaders since Mr. Obama took office in January. They also discussed the world economy, Iran's nuclear ambitions and bilateral trade issues.

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