Flashback: Obama adds another brigade to Afghanistan troop surge | Obama eyes 3 more brigades for Afghanistan | Top U.S. general boosts troop pledge to Afghanistan | Obama’s planned troop surge in Afghanistan could lead to more violence: ISAF | ‘Reconstruction’ efforts in Khandahar not apparent to Afghanis | ‘Some’ Troops to stay in Afghanistan past 2011: McKay | America to assume command in Afghanistan | Canadian military acquiring new helicopters, drones | Obama promises 10,000 more troops for Afghanistan
Allan Woods, Toronto Star
April 4, 2009
An additional 3,000 troops would be provided to help the country through its August elections
STRASBOURG, France–NATO allies agreed to send an extra 3,000 soldiers to Afghanistan to help stabilize the country through presidential elections scheduled for this summer.
At the end of an annual summit, the alliance’s 28 leaders gave their approval to a new U.S. strategy for the eight-year mission that involves more troops on the ground accompanied by civilian experts.
Leaders also agreed to provide more money to help boost the Afghan police and army numbers and capability.
“When it comes to Afghanistan, the bottom line is this,” said outgoing secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. “This alliance has delivered.”
The more contentious issue of long-term troop commitments, however, was unresolved.
U.S. President Barack Obama says it is essential that Europe step up with more troops to match the extra 21,000 soldiers he is sending into theatre this summer.
Scheffer will be replaced in August as NATO chief by Danish Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen, overcoming the protests of Turkey, which had threatened to hold up the concensus decision out of lingering anger at a Danish cartoon offensive to Muslims that was published in 2006.
“It had to be a conclusive summit,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said. “The time of international summits where we talk and do nothing is over.”
The alliance also agreed to build a stronger relationship with Russia, with Scheffer saying “the relationship can deliver more than it has until now.”
Leaders also used their closing news conferences to stress their disapproval of a controversial proposed Afghan law that would infringe on the rights of Shi’ite women.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he demanded assurances the rights of Afghan women would be protected.
“He gave me those assurances,” Brown said.
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