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Obama issues orders to send more troops to Afghanistan

December 01, 2009 14:18 IST

President Barack Obama has issued orders to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan, the White House said without specifying the exact numbers.

The New York Times quoted White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, as saying that Obama relayed his decision to military leaders late on Sunday afternoon during a meeting in the Oval Office. According to sources, about 30,000 troops would be sent in phased deployments over the next 12 to 18 months, bringing the total American presence in Afghanistan to around 100,000.

Obama spent Monday telephoning his foreign counterparts--including the leaders of Britain, France and Russia--informing them of details that he will announce in a nationally televised address on Tuesday night from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

He spoke for 40 minutes with the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who signalled that France was not in a position to commit more troops. "He said France would stay at current troop levels for as long as it takes to stabilize Afghanistan," said an official briefed on the exchange.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain said that Britain would send 500 additional troops to Afghanistan in early December, raising the number of British troops there to 10,000.

Obama also called President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia and met at the White House on Monday with Kevin Rudd, the prime minister of Australia.

In his speech, Obama would discuss how he intended to pay for the plan--a major concern of his Democratic base--and would make clear that he had a time frame for winding down the American involvement in the eight-year-old war."This is not an open-ended commitment," Gibbs said.

Obama's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, is being sent to Brussels to begin briefing North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members and European allies about the policy. There he will be joined on Friday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and General Stanley McChrystal.

Source: ANI