Sunday, April 5, 2009

NATO Summit Backed Obama’s Afghanistan Plan

Baden-Baden (Germany) & Strasbourg (France)

The promises, at a two-day summit marking NATO's 60th anniversary, constituted a sweeping demonstration of support for the new administration's leadership in what has become the alliance's main mission of the moment. But they dramatized once again that European leaders are unwilling to follow Obama's lead in making major new commitments of troops to fight and perhaps die in a faraway war that is widely unpopular among their voters.

At a closing news conference, Obama portrayed the outcome as a success for his maiden encounter with NATO summitry, suggesting that trainers and civilians can be just as valuable as fighters. The 28-nation alliance, he added, had come together in unanimous agreement that Afghanistan must be a strategic priority, even though it is thousands of miles from the European nations that the North Atlantic Alliance was conceived to protect. In addition, more European troop deployments could come in the months ahead, he suggested.

"These commitments of troops, trainers and civilians represent a strong down payment on the future of our mission in Afghanistan and the future of NATO," he declared, adding: "This was not a pledging conference."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who co-hosted the summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the alliance was quick to endorse Obama's new strategy because it responded "point by point" to a long-standing European desire to put less emphasis on military attacks against the Taliban and more on building Afghanistan's army and civilian institutions. … The Washington Post

Another article with embedded (1:45) video.

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