NATO Chief: More Money and Troops Needed for Afghanistan | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 30.03.2009
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NATO Chief: More Money and Troops Needed for Afghanistan

NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer has told the alliance's members and its allies around the world that more needs to be done both financially and militarily before the conflict in Afghanistan will be resolved.

British and Afghan troops in combat

De Hoop Scheffer says the war won't be over any time soon

International forces should not expect to withdraw from Afghanistan any time soon, and they need to do more militarily in the fight against radical Islamic extremists in the country, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels on Monday, March 30, one day before a UN-sponsored meeting on Afghanistan in The Hague, de Hoop Scheffer told journalists that the responsibility for the war didn't lie with US President Barack Obama alone.

The NATO chief spoke positively about the new US strategy for Afghanistan, which he said he considered to be realistic.

"In my opinion, it is necessary to stay in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future," de Hoop Scheffer said, adding that he had so far seen "positive reactions" to a new strategy unveiled by Obama last week.

The Obama plan

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer sits in the Oval Office with US President Barack Obama

Obama will consult with allies about his plan when he comes to Europe this week

Obama's plan, which has no set timetable for withdrawal, is to send 4,000 US troops to train Afghan security forces to fight militants in the country.

These forces would be in addition to an earlier announced reinforcement of 17,000 extra US troops to bolster the war effort. The United States would then have 55,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan -- 23,000 more than those supplied by the remaining NATO members and other countries involved in military operations.

Obama will be consulting with allies on his plan when heads of state and government of NATO members gather in the French city of Strasbourg and in the German town of Baden-Baden on April 3 and 4 to celebrate the alliance's 60th birthday.

Financing the war

A German soldier sitting atop of a tank looks through binoculars

Germany has almost 3,500 troops stationed in Afghanistan

De Hoop Scheffer confirmed that he would call on the international community to contribute $2 billion (1.5 billion euros) a year to train Afghanistan's security forces.

He acknowledged that this was a lot of money, but said that it should be seen in relation to the informal estimate of roughly $42 billion the war is costing NATO and its allies.

"The allies need to do their part," he said. "I would not like to see a mission that is out of balance in this regard."

De Hoop Scheffer explained that while the Obama administration has indicated it won't be continuing its predecessor's policy of pressuring often reluctant allies to supply more troops, European capitals would nonetheless face calls to contribute in other ways, for example with reconstruction or in the civilian training effort.

Senior officials from around the world, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, will join de Hoop Scheffer at the donor conference.

Additionally, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Union, Asian Development Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Bank are sending delegates.

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