Libya will not divert Afghan resources: Petraeus

23rd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

General David Petraeus, the US commander of international forces in Afghanistan, played down fears Wednesday that military action in Libya would divert resources from the Afghan war effort.

"The short answer is no," Petraeus told an audience at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think-tank in London when asked if the coalition action against Moamer Kadhafi would shift the focus from Afghanistan.

"There was an examination of whether certain intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets of an actually quite limited nature might be needed to help out with the operation in Libya," he said.

"But in the end, there have been no assets taken from the efforts in Afghanistan and I dont forsee that happening at this point in time."

Petraeus commands some 140,000 foreign troops in a NATO-led force in Afghanistan.

In Libya, an international coalition led by the United States, France and Britain has launched military strikes to enforce a UN resolution authorising "all necessary means" to protect civilians from Kadhafi's forces.

The action in Libya comes at a time international troops, the lion's share of which are American, are embroiled in a long-running and increasingly unpopular campaign in Afghanistan against a fierce Taliban insurgency.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced on Tuesday that local military and police would take charge of security in seven parts of the country this summer.

In Tuesday's speech, Petraeus also praised Britain's "absolutely indispensable" contribution to the Afghan effort.

Britain is the second biggest contributor of troops to the NATO-led coaltion, with about 9,500 servicemen in the country.

© 2011 AFP

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