NATO backs US general amid Rolling Stone interview row

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NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen backs the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, despite a row over an interview in which he criticises the White House, his spokesman said Tuesday.

"The Rolling Stone article is rather unfortunate, but it is just an article," Rasmussen's spokesman said in a statement.

"We are in the middle of a very real conflict, and the Secretary General has full confidence in General McChrystal as the NATO commander, and in his strategy," the spokesman said.

McChrystal issued an apology on Monday after the popular magazine quoted him denouncing a top diplomat while his aides dismiss President Barack Obama and mock his deputies.

"I extend my sincerest apology for this profile," McChrystal said in a statement issued hours after the article was released.

"It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened."

In the profile, McChrystal jokes sarcastically about preparing to answer a question referring to US Vice President Joe Biden, known as a skeptic of the commander's war strategy.

The general also tells the magazine that he felt "betrayed" by the US ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, in a White House debate over war strategy last year.

Referring to a leaked internal memo from Eikenberry that questioned McChrystal's request for more troops, the commander suggested the ambassador had tried to protect himself for history's sake.

© 2010 AFP

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