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Bush hosts Danish prime minister at Texas ranch

Bush hosts Danish prime minister at Texas ranch

The transformation of NATO and its mission to combat resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan will be discussed at talks this weekend between U.S. President George W. Bush and Denmark's prime minister.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen was traveling Friday to Bush's home in Texas _ a visit that comes at a time when the Bush administration is pressing NATO members to send more troops to Afghanistan and to better coordinate nonmilitary assistance.
The two leaders _ facing a NATO summit in April in Bucharest, Romania _ planned to discuss the alliance's changing role, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
Denmark is helping with both security and reconstruction in Afghanistan, and has been involved in Iraqi security efforts since 2003.
The wide-ranging weekend talks would also touch on Middle East developments, Kosovo's declaration of independence, climate change and U.S. and Danish assistance to Africa, Johndroe told reporters at the White House.
Denmark has said it would oppose any debt relief for Sudan after the African nation's leader urged the Muslim world to boycott Danish goods because of a reprinted controversial cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. Denmark, however, will not cut development aid to Sudan.
Bush met Friday with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the White House, before leaving along with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte for his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
In a speech, de Hoop Scheffer also chided U.S. officials for publicly criticizing the contribution of other NATO members to the alliance's mission in Afghanistan.
NATO's International Security Assistance Forces is 50,000-strong in Afghanistan, but commanders have asked for more combat troops, particularly for the country's south, where the insurgency is the most active.
The United States has some 28,000 forces there _ both in the NATO-led mission and as part of a U.S.-led counterterrorism coalition _ and is sending another 3,200 Marines in April. Denmark has about 360 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led force, and about 500 supporting the U.S. commitment in Iraq.
"If NATO cannot succeed in Afghanistan, it may have a very negative impact on the ability of the alliance to move forward," R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, said this week. "It's the first ground mission in the nearly 60-year history of the alliance."
The alliance fought in Bosnia and Kosovo, but that fighting was done from the air, he said.
During Fogh Rasmussen's three-night visit at the Texas ranch, he and Bush were expected to go mountain biking. In 2006, the two leaders had pedaled around Camp David together.
The Danish prime minister was traveling with his wife, Anne-Mette Rasmussen.


Updated : 2021-05-12 23:48 GMT+08:00