NATO chief on Afghanistan: We're not running from the fight
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen aims to halt criticism that US allies are not doing their share during a speech in Washington this afternoon.
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Both of those assessments underscored the political minefield faced by President Obama as he decides America's next steps in the war, a decision which "could define, even destroy, his presidency", according to the London-based Times newspaper. Former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona said Sunday he can "sympathize with" the president's current predicament with Afghanistan.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Obama seems to be waiting on the outcome of the contested Afghan presidential election to make a decision; a runoff could be held if a United Nations monitoring group declares a large number of ballots invalid. But the administration has already decided to back incumbent Hamid Karzai, the Washington Post reported.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other NATO foreign ministers, meeting Friday in New York with their Afghan counterpart, reached "consensus" that Karzai would probably "continue to be president," whether through a runoff or as the legitimate winner of more than 50 percent of votes cast in disputed Aug. 20 elections, an Obama administration official said.
What Karzai has called "reconciliation" with insurgents who agree to lay down their arms is emerging as a major factor in administration deliberations about a way forward in Afghanistan, officials said. Along with plans to increase the size of the Afghan security forces, the US military is developing programs to offer monetary and other inducements to insurgents it thinks are only loosely tied to the Taliban and other militant groups.