The new NATO chief says the alliance is committed to achieving success
in Afghanistan, and will remain in that country for as long as it takes
to complete the job.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen made the comment Tuesday following a meeting at the White House with U.S. President Barack Obama. He said he agrees with Mr. Obama's approach to the Afghan war that first examines the strategy and then troop strength.
Mr. Obama said the United States and NATO agree that it is critically important to dismantle the al-Qaida network and work effectively with the Afghan government to ensure security in the country.
The president will meet Wednesday with the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, the head of U.S. Central Command General David Petraeus, and other key officials to discuss the situation.
McChrystal has sent his evaluation of the situation to Mr. Obama and has called for additional combat troops.
In New York Tuesday, the U.N.'s top envoy for Afghanistan (Kai Eide) expressed support for General McChrystal's call for more forces, saying more troops are necessary to help train Afghan military and police.
Mr. Obama and NATO chief Rasmussen met at a time of waning public support for the war in the United States and in NATO member countries. U.S. officials have spent weeks assessing the situation in Afghanistan and are now discussing future strategy for the nearly eight-year-old war.
The two men also discussed the new U.S. missile defense plan in Europe. The new plan involves a shift from a ground-based system to a sea- and ground-based program. U.S. officials say it will be more effective against growing threats from Iran.
The NATO chief welcomed the new proposed system, but critics have accused the Obama administration of abandoning its Eastern European partners to seek concessions from Russia, which fiercely opposed the old plan.