Europe's Afghan response includes praise, limits

April 4, 2009 22:22
1 minute read.

European leaders enthusiastically praised President Barack Obama's new Afghan strategy at a NATO summit Saturday but held their ground on a central disagreement and offered only military trainers and extra security forces for upcoming elections. Violent anti-war protests that marred the alliance's 60th anniversary celebrations were a stark reminder that much of Europe has no appetite for the other, costlier half of Obama's Afghan equation: more combat troops. "I am pleased that our NATO allies pledged their strong and unanimous support for our new strategy," Obama said. "We'll need more resources and a sustained effort to achieve our ultimate goals." As protesters battled police outside, NATO risked angering Muslims around the world by giving the post of secretary-general to the prime minister of Denmark, who fueled anger three years ago by backing a Danish newspaper's right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The 28 leaders at the summit also approved measures to repair ties with Russia - virtually frozen since the Russo-Georgian war in August. Afghanistan is seen as a crucial test of the power and relevance of the alliance, which was founded at the height of the Cold War to counterbalance the Soviet Union and now is struggling against a rising insurgency far beyond its borders.

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