NATO welcomes additional U.S. troops

Jan. 1, 2009 at 12:42 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- NATO forces in Afghanistan are awaiting details of the new U.S. strategy expected when Barack Obama takes office as president, an alliance spokesman said.

The multilateral military group, whose forces are coming under increasing attacks from the Taliban using more sophisticated weapons, has welcomed U.S. plans to add up to 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan in the next six months to reinforce its 32,000-member contingent in the country, the Voice of America reported.

NATO spokesman James Appathurai told the VOA the alliance, meanwhile, is waiting to see where Obama steers U.S. strategy in Afghanistan so it can help achieve those goals.

"President-elect Obama has been very clear that he intends to look at the problems of Afghanistan through a much wider lens, not just Pakistan, very much India-Pakistan and its effect on security in Afghanistan," Appathurai was quoted as saying. "He has talked about bringing in other regional actors as well.

Appathurai also said Pakistan in recent months has increased its cooperation with NATO forces in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan realizes that militants crossing the Pakistan-Afghan border are a threat to both countries, the report said.

On reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants to open talks with the Taliban, Appathurai said, "If the Afghan government chooses to engage in talks with the Taliban, elements of the Taliban, that is their decision. NATO will support it," he said.

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