U.S. defends deployment of more troops in Afghanistan
www.chinaview.cn 2009-02-19 05:22:38   Print

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The deployment of an additional 17,000 troops in Afghanistan would allow the United States to help President Hamid Karzai and his government to take control of the country, State Department said on Wednesday.

    "The deployment demonstrates U.S. commitment to the future of Afghanistan and to the Afghan people," said State Department Deputy Spokesman Gordon Duguid.

    "The additional forces will allow us not only augment our counterinsurgency operations there, but will help us to mentor and train the Afghan national army," he said, adding that the move "is essential for the Afghans to actually take control of their own security, which is the ultimate goal."

    U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday approved the first combat deployment of his presidency, calling an additional 17,000 troops to "stabilize a deteriorating situation" in Afghanistan led by Karzai.

    The deployment, which is to begin in May, will increase the U.S. forces in Afghanistan by some 50,000 by mid-summer.

    Urgent attention and swift action were required because "the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan and al-Qaida ... threatens Americas from its safe-haven along the Pakistan border," the White House quoted Obama as saying in a statement.

    Karzai's office said Wednesday that the president and his U.S. counterpart had a telephone conversation Tuesday, and discussed the security situation in Afghanistan and further coordination over the U.S.-led operations.

    The deployment, however, has presented Obama and his administration another question: How to deal with the logistic supply shortage for the troops should Kyrgyzstan closes the Manas air base?

    About 15,000 people and 500 tons of cargo move in and out of the Manas air base every month supporting the military operations in Afghanistan.

    The ruling Ak-Zhol party, who is holding an overwhelming majority of 71 seats of the Kyrgyz parliament, on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill on closing the Manas air base. The bill will be handed over to a plenary session of the parliament for a vote on Thursday.

    "We are waiting to see what the result of their parliamentary debate is," said Duguid, adding "We have talked to them about the way forward, about continuing to have a U.S. presence at the Manasair base. It is for the Kyrgyz now to respond to that."

    The latest reports reaching here quoted Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Kadyrbek Sarbaev as saying that his country does not rule out the possibility of allowing the United States and other countries to use its air space after the closure of the Manas airbase. 

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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