British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has invited Afghan President Hamid Karzai, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, NATO allies, Afghanistan's neighbours, regional powers and key international bodies to a conference in London on Jan 28 to set a political and security timetable for Afghanistan for 2010 and beyond.
The task includes setting out a roadmap for Afghan forces gradually to take over more security responsibilities, and refining an exit strategy for NATO forces. President Obama plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and wants NATO countries to share more of the burden of defeating an obstintate Taliban insurgency. Without exception, public support in those countries is against or ambivalent about sending more troops in response to the US appeal. Nonetheless, some 37,000 more troops are about to join the conflict. NATO allies in December promised a further 6,800 from 36 countries. The total foreign force in Afghanistan in 2010 will be some 140,000 strong. Only 27 percent of Germans still support the troop deployment in Afghanistan according to a poll by the German broadcaster ARD. One reason for the loss of confidence is the scandal surrounding the Kunduz airstrike on 4 September 200, when a German request for a US air strike resulted in the deaths of at least 20 civilians. Dec/09
Date written/update: 2010-01-28