Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he has spoken with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama about the effort to improve security in Afghanistan next year. Meanwhile, U.S. military in Afghanistan says Afghan and coalition forces have killed 17 Taliban insurgents in air strikes on a "known insurgent safe haven" in southern Kandahar province. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Kabul the conversation is the first between the two leaders since Mr. Obama won the presidential election.
President Karzai's office released a statement Sunday saying Mr. Obama pledged to increase the U.S. commitment to fighting terrorism and improving security in the region.
Mr. Obama has long advocated boosting U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan by drawing down U.S. forces in Iraq.
The top U.S. and NATO Commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, said last week he does not currently have enough troops to provide security in parts of the country. He urged Mr. Obama to speed the deployment of as many as 20,000 additional troops after he takes office.
The first additional U.S. brigade, numbering between 3,500 and four-thousand troops, is scheduled to arrive in January.
U.S. Spokesman Colonel Greg Julian says those forces are headed to eastern Afghanistan, an area the military calls R.C. East, which has seen a surge in Taliban attacks this year.
"They are going to move into areas that are currently not covered. We do not have enough forces to cover all of R.C. East, so they will be separated into areas where there are no existing forces," Julian said.
The harsh Afghan winter usually brings a lull in fighting, but U.S. and NATO forces say they plan to keep pressure on Taliban fighters during the coming months.
Commanders say they are re-training all Afghan border police in eastern Afghanistan and building 165 new posts along the so-called Durand Line that serves as a de-facto border.
NATO Spokesman Brigadier General Richard Blanchette says forces are also improving cooperation with Pakistani forces through a joint-mission called Operation Lionheart that targets militants in Afghanistan's Kunar province and Pakistan's Bajaur tribal region.
"In this clearing operation, Pakistani forces in Pakistan and Afghan and ISAF forces in Afghan are coordinating operations along the border applying pressure to any insurgents attempting to cross into or out of Bajaur," Blanchette said.
During his presidential campaign, president-elect Obama criticized President Karzai's government, saying it should work harder, and address corruption and the massive opium trade.
Following Mr. Obama's election win, Mr. Karzai also had strong words for the president-elect, demanding he end Afghan civilian casualties and focus on militant sanctuaries outside Afghanistan.
Sunday's statement from President Karzai's office did not say if the two discussed the criticisms.