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US/Afghanistan - reactions to Obama troop announcement

France welcomes Obama plan ... but no more troops

Article published on the 2009-12-02 Latest update 2009-12-02 12:55 TU

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter prepares to land at FOB Salerno in Afghanistan(Photo: Reuters)

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter prepares to land at FOB Salerno in Afghanistan
(Photo: Reuters)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed US President Barack Obama's plan to send more 30,000 troops to Afghanistan as "courageous, determined and lucid". But Paris says that it will wait until a conference in London in January before deciding whether to send more troops.

"It was a courageous, determined and lucid speech which gives new momentum to the international engagement and opens new prospects," Sarkozy said, promising his "full support".

But, while Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told France Inter radio that the government might "adjust" the contingent, he added that there is no need to increase the number "for the moment".

"For the moment, France has no intention of sending additional combat troops to Afghanistan," Sarkozy adviser Henri Guiano told France Inter.

"France will live up to its responsibilities in this matter and will have a responsible attitude in line with how the situation evolves [...] no decision has been made."

Sarkozy has previously said that no more troops will be sent but the latest reports say that the policy may be reviewed after the conference on Afghanistan planned for 28 January in London.

The US has asked Germany for 2,000 more troops, France and Italy for 1,500 each and Britain for 1,000. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised 500 more troops, but Germany, like France, is waiting for the London conference.

Most other reactions to Obama's pledge were similar to France's:

  • Nato: Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday that the military alliance will send 5,000 "and possibly a few more soldiers on top of it" - Foreign Ministers meet in Brussels on Friday;
  • Afghanistan: Foreign Ministry officials declared themselves "satisfied" but called for a "comprehensive strategy", which would include pressure on Pakistan to act on Taliban in its territory and more cash;
  • Poland: Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Tuesday evening promised Obama that he would send several hundred more troops - a government spokesperson said Wednesday that the figure is likely to be 600;
  • Indonesia: While not criticising the troop announcement, Foreign Minister Marty Natulegawa declared that Afghanistan's problems will be best solved "not just by adding troops but also through capacity-building, civilian and development approaches";
  • General Stanley McChrystal: "The clarity, commitment and resolve outlined in the President's address are critical steps toward bringing security to Afghanistan and eliminating terrorist safe havens that threaten regional and global security," the American head of the international force in Afghanistan declared;
  • The Taliban: "Obama will witness lots of coffins heading to America from Afghanistan," Taliban spokesperson Qari Yousuf Ahamdi told the AFP news agency. "The extra 30,000 troops that will come to Afghanistan will provoke stronger resistance and fighting, They will withdraw shamefully."
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