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Afghan Reaction Toward New US Strategy Mixed

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced his new strategy for Afghanistan, which has military and civilian goals. Reaction from Kabul is mixed.

Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta (file photo)
Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta (file photo)

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced his new strategy for Afghanistan, which has military and civilian goals.  

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke directly to the people of Afghanistan as he outlined his new strategy for their country.

"I want the Afghan people to understand - America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering," the president said.  "We have no interest in occupying your country."

 Following Mr. Obama's speech, Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta spoke to reporters.

He says the Afghan government considers President Obama's announcement important for Afghanistan, the region overall and future U.S.-Afghan relations.

But while the Afghan government responded positively to Mr. Obama's plan, the reactions from ordinary Afghans in Kabul were mixed.

Sulaiman Khel is from Paktika province.  He says his message to President Obama is very simple: Do not send more troops.  He says Afghanistan needs financial support, not more foreign troops.

Mujeeb-u-Rahman is a student in Kabul.  He says he believes that if there are more American troops in Afghanistan, security will improve.

Sayed Abdullah is an Afghan government employee in Kabul.  He says Mr. Obama should just send the money instead of the troops.  He says he believes the security situation will get worse if there are more foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Abdul Rauf Mangal is a businessman from Khost province.  He says Mr. Obama's promise to strengthen the Afghan security forces is a good idea, and that Afghans will support him.  He says just giving money to Afghanistan is not enough.

Afghan Reaction Toward New US Strategy Mixed
Afghan Reaction Toward New US Strategy Mixed

This has been the deadliest year for foreign troops in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban government eight years ago.

Mr. Obama said late Tuesday the United States supports efforts by the Afghan government to reconcile with Taliban militants who lay down their weapons and reject violence.  The U.S. president also said he hopes to start withdrawing American troops in July 2011.

People in Kabul embraced these concepts.  They also approved of Mr. Obama's so-called "civilian surge," a U.S.-Afghan partnership that would help expand the country's agricultural sector.

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