Obama, NATO Chief Agree on Afghanistan Strategy
By Kent Klein
29 September 2009
The secretary general of NATO says he agrees with U.S. President Barack Obama's approach to the war in Afghanistan. The two leaders discussed strategy on Tuesday.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the leader of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, says President Obama is right to decide strategy, then troop strength, for Afghanistan.
"The first thing is not numbers," Rasmussen said. "It is to find and fine-tune the right approach to implement the strategy already laid down. And all NATO allies are right now looking at McChrystal's review."
Army General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has sent his evaluation of the situation on the ground to Mr. Obama and European leaders. Among other things, he is calling for more combat troops.
In the Oval Office on Tuesday, the president joined Mr. Rasmussen in saying the NATO operation in Afghanistan is a team effort.
"This is not a American battle; this is a NATO mission as well," Mr. Obama said. "And we are working actively and diligently to consult with NATO at every step of the way."
Mr. Obama is considering whether to send more troops to Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from again taking control of the country or to use special forces and unmanned spy planes to target al-Qaida in Pakistan.
Either way, the president said U.S. goals in Afghanistan have not changed.
"It is absolutely critical that we are successful in dismantling, disrupting, destroying the al Qaida network," Mr. Obama said. "And that we are effectively working with the Afghan government to provide the security necessary for that country."
After meeting with Mr. Obama, NATO's Anders Rasmussen said he is convinced that success in Afghanistan will be achieved.
"This alliance will stand united and we will stay in Afghanistan as long as it takes to finish our job," Rasmussen said.
President Obama's meeting with Mr. Rasmussen is one of a series of meetings on Afghanistan strategy taking place during the next few weeks. A major meeting of key administration and military officials on Afghanistan, originally scheduled for Tuesday, has been postponed until Wednesday.
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