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Afghanistan's Karzai Would Welcome More US Troops

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he would welcome more American troops in his country.

Speaking to an American interviewer (ABC-TV) Tuesday, Mr. Karzai said he is aware of reports that the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, will seek up to 40,000 additional troops to fight an increased Taliban insurgency.

The Afghan president declined to indicate how many international troops he thinks are needed. Such decisions are best left to professionals, he said, adding that his main concern is protecting the Afghan people and defeating terrorism.

The Obama administration is evaluating its strategy in Afghanistan and considering whether to send additional troops to improve security and speed up training the Afghan army.

There are now about 65,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and current plans call for the total American force there to be capped at [limited to] 68,000 soldiers later this year.

Those forces will include some 21,000 combat troops and trainers that President Obama approved in March. On Tuesday, a major U.S. newspaper reported that 13,000 support troops are being deployed to help those combat forces. The support troop deployments are included in the current limit of 68,000 total U.S. troops in the country.

The Washington Post said the contingent includes troops such as engineers, medical personnel and intelligence experts.

General McChrystal has requested additional troops as U.S. casualties in Afghanistan have risen sharply in recent months. Opinion polls show the war is steadily losing support among the American public.