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U.S. House Speaker Pelosi meets Afghan president, U.S. troops

U.S. House Speaker Pelosi meets Afghan president, U.S. troops

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the leader of the U.S. House of Representatives that his security forces need strengthening, as the two discussed possible U.S. troop increases, an Afghan official said.
Karzai stressed his desire for increased training and equipment for Afghanistan's fledgling army and police forces, the Afghan official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information publicly.
Nancy Pelosi, a Californian Democrat, and Karzai discussed plans announced last week by the Bush administration to ask Congress for US$10.6 billion for Afghanistan, a major increase aimed at rebuilding the country and strengthening government security forces still fighting the Taliban five years after the U.S.-led invasion.
About US$8.6 billion would be for training and equipping Afghan police and soldiers; US$2 billion would go toward reconstruction.
Pelosi led a delegation of six other congressional Democrats to Afghanistan to meet with military and government leaders after traveling to Iraq and Pakistan.
The Pentagon last week said a brigade of U.S. soldiers would stay in Afghanistan four months longer than planned _ an effective troop increase of 3,200 soldiers. That announcement came only days after a visit here by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Pelosi, meanwhile, has led a drive in Congress against President George W. Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq as part of a new security crackdown in Baghdad.
Pelosi told Karzai that Afghanistan has bipartisan support in Congress, the Afghan official said. Members of the delegation also told Karzai they hope to see more coordination and cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Earlier on Sunday, the delegation spent about an hour at the main U.S. base in Bagram, where she thanked soldiers from the 10th Mountain and 82nd Airborne divisions for their service, said Lt. Col. David Accetta, a U.S. military spokesman. She also met with Maj. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, the top U.S. general here.
The seven-member delegation also met with U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann and Gen. David Richards, the outgoing commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The delegation did not talk to reporters.
The members of Congress stopped in Pakistan on Saturday, where Pelosi met with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and cooperation in countering terrorism.
Pelosi's delegation earlier visited Iraq, where she met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.


Updated : 2021-04-14 20:57 GMT+08:00