NATO To Send 7,000 Troops To Afghanistan
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
And we begin this hour with two reports about Afghanistan. From the level of the support from the international coalition down to a street view from one woman who lives in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. First to NATO headquarters in Belgium. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was there today working to win commitments of troops, trainers and development aid.
As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, many allies are stepping up.
MICHELE KELEMEN: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen came out of the meeting on Afghanistan upbeat about the troop commitments he's hearing.
Mr. ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (Secretary General, NATO): Nations are backing up their words with deeds. At least 25 countries will send more forces to the mission in 2010. They have offered around 7,000 new forces, with more to come.
KELEMEN: Pledges are being made from places like Italy, Poland and Slovakia and from an aspiring NATO country, Georgia, which, according to one U.S. official, may offer up to 1,000 new troops. Rasmussen says he expects contributions from some larger countries after an international conference on Afghanistan in January. But today, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner made clear that he believes the French have the troops needed for the responsibilities they have in Afghanistan.
Mr. BERNARD KOUCHNER (Foreign Minister, France): We are in charge of a region. For this particular region, we already adjusted the number of our soldiers. If there is some places where to get security for our people or for the Afghan we have to adjust, yes, we'll do it again. But for the time being, not seeing in terms of improving the number of soldiers before the London conference, where we are supposed to talk about strategy.
KELEMEN: The Germans, too, are waiting for that and sounded more focused on providing trainers and development aid rather than troops. But in an interview at NATO headquarters today, Secretary Clinton said the line is blurring between trainers and combat forces.
Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): The end of the training is actually taking place in combat because we can't just send over people to teach them how to load their guns and then send the Afghan soldiers out into the field. General McChrystal's view is that we need people living, working, literally breathing together off the battlefield, on the battlefield before we can, you know, say with confidence that an Afghan security force unit is ready to go on its own.
KELEMEN: While she has been selling General Stanley McChrystal's military strategy, the secretary says she's also working on ways to better coordinate the offers of development aid to Afghanistan.
Sec. CLINTON: I just want to be sure that we are all part of an international plan. We now have an international military plan under General McChrystal. I'm working to get an international civilian plan and that's one of my highest priorities.
KELEMEN: Secretary Clinton talked with her counterparts here today about some of her other priorities, including Iran. She said President Obama has done what he said he would do and reach out to try to engage Tehran. But now, she says, it's time to move toward sanctions.
Sec. CLINTON: The world has to now begin to pressure Iran. And I think we'll be making that case in the next weeks.
KELEMEN: She had a chance to make that case with Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, who was also here at NATO today. He said Iran didn't come up in their meeting. Instead, they focused on another pressing matter, the U.S. and Russian efforts to finish up a follow-on treaty for START, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires this weekend.
Michele Kelemen, NPR News at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
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