The US has denied reports that President Barack Obama has taken a decision to substantially increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan.
“The President has not made a decision, and when he does I think you can assume that the BBC will not be the first outlet for such a decision,” Mr. Gibbs said during the course of his daily press conference when asked about a BBC report which said Obama has informed British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that there would be a substantial increase in US troop to Afghanistan.
The BBC’s Newsnight had said that the increase could be announced next week.
“Newsnight said the Obama administration had already told the UK government it would soon announce a substantial increase in its military forces in Afghanistan,” BBC said on its website.
General Steanley McChrystal, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, asked the Obama administration to send more troops to Afghanistan.
“All indications are that President Obama is honouring the request by Gen McChrystal,” the Afghanistan Ambassador to the US, Said T Jawad, was quoted as saying by the BBC.
However, Gibbs strongly denied that any such decision has been taken by Obama, who had yesterday his fifth situation room meeting on Af-Pak, which his aides said is to find the right strategy for the region.
“First of all, the president hasn’t made a decision. So the fact that he’s made a decision isn’t true, and the fact that the decision that he hasn’t made has been reported as a certain number consequently is also not true,” Mr. Gibbs said.
“I would not put any throw weight behind the fact that a decision has been made when the president has yet to make a decision,” he added.
The White House said Wednesday’s situation room meeting began with an update of the political and security situation in Afghanistan. “The President received a report on our efforts to strengthen our civilian mission within Afghanistan, particularly as it relates to our effort to partner with the Afghan government,” he said.
Mr. Obama also received a report on US efforts to train Afghan security forces. And as usual, he heard from many of his advisers, Mr. Gibbs said, adding that this was in continuation of series of meetings -- an update on the political situation and an update on security force training, meaning ANA and ANP, Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police.
“Like the other meetings, there wasn’t one magic sentence or one magic phrase, but, again, a fairly comprehensive meeting to go through the remaining situation that hadn’t been covered and needed to be covered more in depth in Afghanistan,” Mr. Gibbs said.