NATO to reaffirm commitment in Afghanistan: Obama

Friday, November 19, 2010

MADRID - NATO leaders meeting in Lisbon should “reaffirm their lasting engagement to facilitate a sustainable transition” in Afghanistan, US President Barack Obama said in an interview published Friday.

The interview was published by the Spanish daily El Pais, which had received Obama’s answers in writing, as NATO leaders began a two-day summit in the Portuguese capital.

The US expected the alliance to pledge more instructors for Afghan forces and to express its “long-term support” for the Asian country, Obama said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has set the end of 2014 as the tentative deadline for Kabul to take responsibility for its own security, the president pointed out.

In an article written by Obama published by El Pais and by the Portuguese daily Publico, the president said NATO had the resources to “break the Taliban’s momentum” and to forge a lasting alliance with Kabul even after troop withdrawal.

In the article, Obama also said NATO needed to retain an “effective nuclear arsenal” as long as nuclear weapons existed, despite striving for a nuclear-free world.

The NATO summit would establish a “guide that is needed to transform NATO”, including a new strategic concept and the development of new capacities such as anti-missile defence, Obama told El Pais.

The president denied that his recent travels in Asia reflected a diminishing interest in Europe in US foreign policy. “Wherever we see a challenge, the US consults Europe,” he said.

Asked whether he still felt enthusiastic about and capable of changing the world, Obama answered in the affirmative. “Change is difficult and takes time, but people, be it in the US or anywhere in the world, want to create a better future,” he said.

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