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West "not winning" in Afghanistan: U.S. vice president

 U.S. Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday March 10, 2009. Biden is on...

Belgium NATO Biden

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden gestures while speaking during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday March 10, 2009. Biden is on...

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden appealed to NATO allies on Tuesday to help the United States tackle worsening security in Afghanistan, saying the alliance was struggling to deal with a threat to the West as a whole.

"The deteriorating situation in the region poses a security threat not just to the United States but to every single nation round this table," Biden told representatives of the 26-country military pact during a visit to Brussels.

"We are not now winning the war, but the war is far from lost," he told a news conference after three hours of talks.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called on NATO to boost efforts before Aug. 20 Afghan elections. "It is important that this alliance delivers in the short term," he told the same briefing.

Western powers are concerned not only by the Taliban's advances in Afghanistan but also by its influence in Pakistan, where Islamic militants have established bases in tribal border regions and have disrupted NATO's supply convoys to Afghanistan while securing concessions from the Pakistani government.

Biden said U.S. President Barack Obama wanted to consult with allies on a strategy review due to be completed this month and Washington would "expect everyone to keep whatever commitments were made in arriving at that joint strategy".

At lunch with Biden, top EU officials discussed ways to reinforce commitments and to improve the coordination and efficiency of assistance, including the vital priority of training of the Afghan police and army, an EU source said.

The European Union runs a programme for training the Afghan police but has failed so far to meet a promise made last year to double the number of trainers.

The sides also discussed plans for an international conference on Afghanistan proposed by the United States for March 31 that would include regional players such as Pakistan and Iran as part of a broader approach to containing militancy.

U.S.-led forces drove the Taliban from power in Kabul in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. targets planned by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda from bases in Afghanistan. More than seven years on, violence has worsened, despite the presence of some 70,000 foreign troops, including 38,000 Americans.

Obama has approved deployment of 17,000 more soldiers and has stressed the need for non-military assistance from countries that did not feel able to provide more troops.

The official said the new administration was trying to stress in two visits to Europe by Biden in a month that it took consultation with allies seriously and recognized the need to "reset" ties with Europe, just as it has announced with Russia.

The Bush administration raised hackles in Europe by pursuing its own agenda in its "war on terror" while complaining about a reluctance of allies to send more troops, and debates on Afghanistan often became noisy slanging matches over strategy.


Updated : 2021-06-21 21:17 GMT+08:00