White House playing down expectations on Afghanistan

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President Obama came to Europe this week to call on allies to increase their roles in Afghanistan, but the White House said Saturday morning that commitments to do so won’t all come right away.

“While we expect some developments today, we also expect that this is an effort in motion,” a senior Obama administration official said on a conference call moments ago. “Commitments will come in not just today but over the course of the next several weeks.”

The official would not say whether the U.S. is content to accept only non-combat contributions from allies. The French and German leaders both indicated Friday that they will help out in Afghanistan, but only by sending civilians and trainers for the Afghan military and police.

The White House also said that they don’t see a need to decide Saturday on the next NATO secretary general, which could mean trouble for Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is being blocked by Turkey over their objection to his support for free speech in 2005 when Muslims reacted with outrage to a series of cartoons in a Danish newspaper.

“I don’t see a huge sense of urgency to resolve this today,” the White House official said, noting that current Secretary General Jaap de hoop Scheffer does not vacate his post for a few months.

— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times

Follow me on Twitter // jward@washingtontimes.com // Read my latest articles here // My YouTube channel

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