NATO meeting

By United Press International  |  Sept. 29, 2009 at 8:51 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had a meeting scheduled Tuesday with Afghanistan on the top of the agenda.

Obama is weighing a report from his lead commander in the region that paints a dim picture of the on-the-ground situation. There are reports the military is seeking an increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by about 40,000. Obama has previously ordered increases that will place about 68,000 U.S. troops in the country by the end of the year.

As the U.S. presence has grown in Afghanistan, a war that Obama said was more important than the fighting in Iraq, so have casualties. Polling suggests the U.S. public is losing support for the battle. Leading members of Congress have called for a cutback rather than increase in troop strength.

The United States has long sought additional support in Afghanistan from its NATO allies and Rasmussen, in a speech Monday, said that has been forthcoming. He said all 28 NATO members have a presence in Afghanistan and troop commitments from countries other than the United States have grown by 9,000 in 18 months -- hardly the rate of increase seen in the number of U.S. forces, however.

Rasmussen said that complaining about the apparent lack of support from other countries will make it less likely they will participate in the fighting.

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