Obama to press allies for more troops to train Afghans
US President Barack Obama will be looking for commitments from NATO allies in Lisbon to send more personnel to train Afghan forces and ease the withdrawal of foreign troops, he said in an interview published Friday.
NATO leaders gathered in the Portuguese capital Friday for a two-day summit to set a 2014 cut-off date for NATO-led troops to leave Afghanistan.
The United States and its partners are "focused on defeating Al-Qaeda and its extremist allies, and helping the Afghan National Security Forces increase their capacity so that they can assume responsibility for securing the Afghan people against external and internal threats..," Obama told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
"At this summit, we expect allies and partners to reinforce their enduring commitment to facilitating a sustainable transition process by announcing commitments of additional trainers and mentors for the Afghan National Security Forces," he said in the written interview.
The United States and its NATO allies battling the Taliban insurgency view building up the Afghan army and police as crucial to paving the way for the eventual withdrawal of foreign troops.
Obama also reaffirmed that the United States and its NATO partners "fully support an Afghan-led process of reconciliation and reintegration that seeks to bring back into society those members of the Taliban who agree to some key points.
The Taliban "must cease their violence, break their ties with Al-Qaeda and its affiliates and agree to live under the rules of the Afghan constitution, including the provisions that protect the rights of all Afghans," Obama said, according to the original English text of the interview released by El Pais.
The president said the "New Strategic Concept" that the 28-nation alliance is to unveil in Lisbon will seek to identify "new threats that we will jointly defend against - such as international terrorism, malicious cyber activities, proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery, and other challenges."
It "recognises that modern threats require a global response, and so it places a premium on NATO's partnerships with other countries and organisations."
Obama also emphasized that US moves to boost alliances in other regions, such as Asia, "does not come at the expense of our relationship with Europe.
"The fact is that wherever we face a challenge, the United States consults with Europe and works with Europe to address it - and we do so because of our shared values and ideals."
© 2010 AFP