Wire: UN Envoy Endorses More Troops for Afghanistan
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that the top United Nations envoy for Afghanistan says more foreign troops are needed to help secure the country, and to train its army and police forces. The envoy, Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, spoke to reporters at a NATO defense ministers meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, Friday.
U.N. Special Envoy Kai Eide was blunt during a news conference before meeting with NATO's defense ministers. The Norwegian diplomat told reporters he endorsed the grim assessment by the NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, and his call for a change in the way the alliance operates in the country, VOA News reported.
"We have come to a point where I believe McChrystal is right," Eide said. "If we continue the way we've done so far, both with regard to the military effort, the civilian effort and the behavior of the Afghan government, this project will not work. Does it mean it's not doable? I believe it is doable, but it requires some basic changes, both from the Afghan government and from the international community."U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is attending this meeting with a similar message, calling for a broad range of additional European help in Afghanistan, even though President Barack Obama is unsure of his decision whether to send more U.S. troops, VOA noted.
General McChrystal is asking for tens of thousands more troops, although the exact figure is secret. Ambassador Eide endorsed the idea, but would not be specific on how many more foreign troops he thinks Afghanistan needs.
"I do believe, yes, that additional international troops are required," Eide said. "And I emphasize in particular the need that we have for such troops in order to partner better and mentor the Afghan national security forces as they grow."
He said that means working directly with the Afghan forces, and helping provide security between now and when the Afghans can handle the job on their own. And he called on coalition countries to all do their share.
"I believe that this can not be a U.S. only enterprise," Eide said. "There has to be contribution from other troop contributors, and in particular Europeans."
(Report from newswire sources.)