One-Day Meeting Hopes To Boost Afghanistan
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning. This week, President Obama's administration tries to show progress on a tricky campaign promise. It's the promise of closer relations between the U.S. and its allies. When he visited Berlin last year, he warned Europeans that if he were to be elected, he would still be calling them to action.
President BARACK OBAMA: In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more, not less.
MONTAGNE: Now the new president is finding out how much more he can expect. Mr. Obama and key members of his administration are traveling to Europe for a series of meetings on the economy, NATO and Afghanistan. In a moment, we'll talk with the president's national security advisor. We begin with NPR's Michele Kelemen. She's with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a conference on Afghanistan. Hello, Michele.
MICHELE KELEMEN: Good morning, Renee.
MARTIN: Now what is the U.S. wanting from the dozens of leaders gathered where you are there at The Hague?
KELEMEN: Well, you know, with this new U.S. troop build up in Afghanistan, the U.S. is now going to have two times the troops that Europe has in Afghanistan. So this is a conference that, as Secretary Clinton has put it, it's about demonstrating global support for the operation in Afghanistan, making sure that it doesn't look like it's U.S.-only strategy, that the U.S. is really reaching out, consulting with not only Europe, but, as you said, there are dozens -there over 80 countries here. Europeans have been reluctant to send more combat forces.
It's hard politically in many of these countries to do that, but they have suggested doing more, for instance, on police training. And you have others like Japan, for example, that plans to get more aid, actually paying police salaries, perhaps. So U.S. officials, while they say this is not a pledging conference - they keep sort of downplaying expectations about that - they do come here asking Europeans, others to do more, particularly on the civilian side of this mission.
MARTIN: The Obama administration has dropped the term war on terror. Does that mean anything in terms of administration policy?
KELEMEN: Well, I think it's part of this reaching out to Europe, frankly. I mean, she said there was no directive on that, but she did say with a smile to us on the plane that they don't use that language anymore. It was controversial language, particularly here in Europe.
MARTIN: Well, Iran is also attending this conference. Is the secretary of state making any kind of direct appeal to them?
KELEMEN: Well, she says she's not going to single out any particular country and not single out Iran in her comments, but it was clear that she wanted Iran at this meeting. She proposed this meeting less than a month ago, actually, and wanted it to be this big tent, as she put it at the time, to include a lot of different countries and include all of Afghanistan's neighbors, which means Iran. And she's eager to hear what the Iranians are going to say here, what kind of pledges they might make. She said they're interested, for instance, in dealing with the narcotics problem in Afghanistan.
It may not be an easy encounter, though. The Iranian deputy foreign minister who's here has already been quoted as saying he thinks the presence of foreign troops cannot bring peace and stability for Afghanistan.
MARTIN: Michele, thanks very much.
MS. KELEMEN: Thank You.
MARTIN: And there is Michele Kelemen, reporting from The Hague in the Netherlands.