US expects NATO to do more in Afghanistan: Clinton

April 3rd, 2009 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Strasbourg (France), April 3 (DPA) The US expects its NATO allies to contribute more soldiers, trainers and money to the alliance’s operations in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said ahead of a NATO summit that opens Friday.
“The NATO summit is not a pledging conference, but of course we’ll be talking about how our allies can match their resources to the needs identified in the (US) strategic review,” Clinton said ahead of her arrival in Strasbourg.

Clinton was to accompany US President Barack Obama to the summit, which takes place in the French city of Strasbourg and in its German neighbour, Baden Baden.

The US currently provides about half of all the forces taking part in NATO’s 62,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan. And Obama has vowed to deploy an additional 17,000 troops, as well as 4,000 more experts to train the Afghan security forces.

Officials in Washington hope that, by setting an example, their European allies will follow.

“What we decided to do was to give of the NATO allies, EU members, countries in the region, everyone who we think has a stake in the future of Afghanistan, to do their own internal review and to take a hard look at what they believe is their highest and best contribution,” Clinton said.

US National Security Adviser James Jones said additional help would be particularly needed in the summer, when Afghans go to the polls to vote on whether to renew the mandate of President Hamid Karzai.

“We have a national election coming up. Allies are considering how they might reinforce themselves … so I expect there will be additional troop contributions,” Jones said.

Germany and Italy have already indicated they will be providing more soldiers for the election period, but NATO commanders insist four additional battalions are needed.

Jones also said allies would be asked to provide more money and more trainers to sustain the Afghan National Army.

Earlier this week, NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer said some $2 billion annually would be needed to sustain the new 134,000-man Afghan Army.

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