PARIS: European leaders and top diplomats hailed U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech defining the strategy in Afghanistan, but few countries were forthcoming on Wednesday with pledges of fresh troops.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy commended the speech as “courageous, determined and lucid” but stopped short of offering more soldiers from France, the fourth largest contributor to NATO’s Afghan effort.
In neighbouring Germany, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle praised the speech as supporting Germany’s position that a political solution for Afghanistan backed by military support was the only way forward. But Germany also indicated that troop increases would not be discussed until after a London conference on Afghanistan in late January.
Speaking just hours after Mr. Obama announced the deployment of 30,000 fresh U.S. troops to Afghanistan, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels European and other U.S. allies would contribute more than 5,000 more troops to the international force in Afghanistan.
But he did not specify where the troops would come from and how many would be from Europe as reluctance for major new troop contributions was palpable across the continent.
Mr. Westerwelle praised Mr. Obama for making clear there must be an end to the mission.
Of the major European continental powers deployed in Afghanistan, only Poland indicated a solid willingness to send more troops.
A Polish official said the government would likely to send 600 reinforcements to strengthen its existing 2,000-strong contingent in Afghanistan.— AP