President Obama unexpectedly Friday met in Copenhagen with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, one day after the general spoke out publicly on his need for more troops.
The president and the general met on board Air Force One for about 25 minutes at the end of Mr. Obama’s roughly five-hour visit to Copenhagen, where he made the case earlier Friday to the International Olympic Committee for why Chicago should host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Air Force One that Gen. McChrystal flew from London to Copenhagen specifically to meet with Mr. Obama.
“The president wanted to take the opportunity to get together with Gen. McChrystal,” Mr. Gibbs said.
The meeting took place before Air Force One took off, and Gen. McChrystal did not come with Mr. Obama back to Washington. In an e-mail sent from Air Force One as the president flew home, Mr. Gibbs clarified who requested the meeting.
The president “wanted to talk, and they agreed today would work,” Mr. Gibbs wrote.
Gen. McChrystal was in London on Thursday to deliver a speech to an audience of military specialists.
As Mr. Obama and his national security team continue an in-depth review of their options and strategies in Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal voiced his position clearly and forcefully in London on whether or not the U.S. should increase its commitment of soldiers in Afghanistan from the current 68,000.
The general was asked if he supported reducing the American footprint in favor of a more lightweight effort to go after specific targets, and said, “The short answer is: No.”
“You have to navigate from where you are, not from where you wish to be,” he said. “A strategy that does not leave Afghanistan in a stable position is probably a short-sighted strategy.”
In Washington Thursday, Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, said he had “not yet endorsed” any troop increase.
“That is something I can assure has not leaked and is exceedingly closely held although that is about to be introduced into the equation,” he said at The Atlantic’s “First Draft of History” conference. “Because obviously at a certain point, once you have talked about goals and objectives and then discussed various options for achieving those goals and objectives, you’ve got to put a price tag on it, and that price tag eventually of course will have numbers of troops, possibly, associated with it, will have numbers of dollars associated with it, will have numbers of civilians associated.”
By Elaine Donnelly
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