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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Obama and Karzai Talk

KABUL, Dec 1: Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Barack Obama discussed the new US policy for Afghanistan during an hour-long videoconference call on Tuesday morning, a spokesman for the presidential palace said.

The videoconference came ahead of Obama’s planned speech on Tuesday night at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he will outline a new US war plan and dispatch between 30,000 and 35,000 more US troops to Afghanistan. Karzai’s office said the two leaders discussed in detail the security, political, military and economic aspects of the strategy.

The call was one of several Obama was making to world leaders, including Asif Ali Zardari, the president of Pakistan.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said he spoke with Obama over the phone on Monday and Obama informed him about his Afghanistan decisions. Loekke Rasmussen would not go into details, but said that the Obama plan should make it easier for international forces to pull out at some point.

“It will be offensive and it will send a strong signal that the international community’s commitment to take care of Afghanistan in such a way that we forward the probability that we will not have a lifelong physical presence in Afghanistan,” he said at his weekly news conference.

Obama’s war escalation includes sending more US forces into Afghanistan in a graduated deployment over the next year. They would join the 71,000 US troops already on the ground. Obama’s new war strategy also includes renewed focus on training Afghan forces to take over the fight and allow the Americans to leave.

Obama also is expected to explain why he believes the US must continue to fight more than eight years after the war was started following the Sept 11 attacks on the United States by Al Qaeda terrorists based in Afghanistan.

This has been the deadliest year of the conflict for US forces, with nearly 300 killed. Casualties started climbing soon after Obama decided to deploy an additional 21,000 US troops as part of his plan to refocus on the Afghan war.—AP

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