Friday, March 7, 2008

You just can't make this up......

NATO to launch new comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan
dpa - International News Service in English
Mar 06, 2008 11:16 EST

Brussels (dpa) - NATO is to launch a comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan aimed at bridging longstanding divisions within the alliance, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner confirmed Thursday. "A strategy is necessary," he said.

The four-point plan combines the demands by some allies to focus on fighting the Taliban and the desire by others to do more on the reconstruction and nation-building side.
Kouchner said it would foresee "a common determination of the allies to stay engaged in Afghanistan for the long term", reconstruction, "clear prospects for a gradual handover to the Afghan authorities at all levels" and "a politically-shared strategy for Afghanistan", Kouchner said.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also confirmed plans for a new strategy at an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.
Such a plan, which has been in the pipeline for some time, was expected to be launched at NATO's April 2-4 summit in Bucharest, officials said.

American, British, Dutch and Canadian soldiers have been left to face the brunt of the fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan's volatile south amid reluctance from some allies to send their troops there.

Germany in particular has been unwilling to commit its troops to the south, preferring instead to deploy its soldiers in the more peaceful north.
The US has repeatedly called on its allies to send more troops while Canada has threatened to pull its 2,500 troops out of the dangerous Kandahar region unless other NATO members send substantial reinforcements.

But Rice sought to play down such divisions on Thursday.

"Germany, like others, is contributing to the efforts and that is greatly appreciated," Rice said.
However, she stressed that defeating terrorism and the Taliban remained a priority.

"What we have to be able to do is to make certain that we can fulfil every requirement. We cannot just fulfil the requirements that have to do with reconstruction, governance and the rule of law," she said.

"We have to win against the insurgents, we have to help the Afghans, train the army, and it is a shared view that we need more help in that regard," she added.
NATO's ISAF mission in Afghanistan can count on about 40,000 soldiers, most of whom are American.

Source: 7 March 08
dpa - International News Service in English