US asks European allies to do more in Afghanistan

February 20th, 2009 - 1:11 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaKrakow (Poland), Feb 19 (Xinhua) US Defence Secretary Robert Gates Thursday asked NATO’s European allies to do more in Afghanistan to balance new US pledge to send in 17,000 additional troops.
Gates and his counterparts in NATO countries were holding informal discussions on Afghanistan.

“Secretary Gates made a point … that this (additional US troops for Afghanistan) should not be seen as only a US extra effort, that this extra effort needs to be balanced by all the allies,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai told reporters.

All allies shared the view that everybody needs to do more, said Appathurai, without pronouncing any specific pledges by other allies. He said apart from military support, allies could also make civilian contributions to NATO’s operations in Afghanistan.

European allies are under pressure to send more troops to Afghanistan after US President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that Washington would send in 17,000 more troops in the coming months.

European leaders are yet to convince their citizens that they also have a stake in the war in Afghanistan. So far only Italy has announced it will reinforce its contingent by 500 troops in Afghanistan.

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