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UN's Top Afghan Envoy Supports Call for More Troops

By Margaret Besheer
United Nations
29 September 2009

The U.N.'s top envoy for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, has expressed support for the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan's call for more troops in that country. Eide told the U.N. Security Council Tuesday that more international troops are necessary to help train Afghan military and police forces.

Eide said he did not want to get into the debate over the need for additional international fighting forces, but he called U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal's assessment of the war, "clear, straightforward and demanding." "We agree on the need to improve the strength and capacity of the Afghan army and police," he said.

Later, he told reporters that the debate in Western countries regarding engagement in Afghanistan should be reason for concern for both the current and future Afghan governments. He also explained that he thinks more troops are necessary to support the country's nascent police and military.

"I think that more troops are certainly needed, particularly to do one thing - we need to build up the Afghan security forces quickly - both the army and the police. That will, by necessity, need more troops, not only for the training, but for the mentoring in the field. It is quite inevitable," he said.

Eide said that cannot be only a U.S. effort. He said he spoke earlier in the day to European defense ministers who are meeting in Sweden and urged them to play a larger part in training and building up the police and army.

For his part, Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta welcomed the high priority the U.S. government has given Afghanistan. "We are confident the surge in U.S. military support, coupled with the increase in civilian and developmental assistance, is the best way forward," he said.

In Washington Tuesday, President Barack Obama met with the new head of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Mr. Obama said the United States and NATO agree that it is critically important to dismantle the al-Qaida network and work effectively with the Afghan government to ensure security in the country. Mr. Rasmussen said NATO allies are now examining General McChrystal's assessment of the war.

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