US seeks support for Afghan 'mess'

Holbrooke in Pakistan to urge backing for "tough" conflict in Afghanistan.

    Holbrooke says it will be "much tougher" to bring stability to the region than it was for Iraq [AFP]

    However, Al Jazeera's Hamish MacDonald, reporting from the Afghan capital Kabul, said there have been indications that the extra US troop deployment may have been put on hold.

    "We've spoken to the US military in Afghanistan, and they've indicated to us that nothing is guaranteed ... its all dependent on a number of factors, including approval from the new president," our correspondent said.

    The White House has made no official statement but US media reports say Barack Obama, the US president, was not pleased with preliminary plans for the troops laid by his generals.

    Engaging the Taliban

    Pakistan has already deployed more than 1,000 troops along its 2,500km border with Afghanistan, but the Afghan government says that force is insufficient.

    IN VIDEO


    Security to dominate US envoy's visit to Pakistan

    Holbrooke will remain in Pakistan for three days before moving on to neighbouring Afghanistan to continue the security talks.

    He told Nato and European delegates in Munich that a new approach was needed to address the situation in Afghanistan.

    "What is required in my view is new ideas, better co-ordination within the US government, better co-ordination with our Nato allies and other concerned countries and the time to get it right."

    Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said he wanted to engage the Taliban in the political process.

    "We will invite all those Taliban who are not part of al-Qaeda, who are not part of terrorist networks, who want to return to their country ... to come back to their country," Karzai said, calling on the fighters to lay down their arms.

    "There is no way that we can succeed in the way we want to, in the right time, without some form of reconciliation."

    Diminished support

    Al Jazeera's Mark Seddon, reporting from Munich, said hearing from the different speakers, it appeared that the aim of agreeing on a common strategy seemed to be some way off.

    Karzai said his call had to be part of a larger peacemaking effort for Afghanistan and that foreign forces in the country should do more to prevent civilian casualties which have caused widespread anger among Afghans.

    The Afghan president, who is due to take part in elections in August, has seen local and international support dwindle in recent months amid an upsurge in attacks from the Taliban, allegations of government corruption and an increase in opium production in the country.

    His call for reconciliation with the Taliban could be part of a strategy to shore up his flagging presidency and convince international partners that he is the best person to lead Afghanistan, our correspondent MacDonald said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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