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Obama Weighs Afghan Options, Amid Controversy Over Afghanistan Election Results


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U.S. President Barack Obama is weighing his options on Afghanistan amid continuing controversy surrounding the recent Afghan presidential elections. Administration officials stress they need a strong partner in Kabul in order to achieve military success.

President Obama has already held a number of lengthy meetings with his national security team on Afghanistan - all part of an in-depth review that is likely to result in a modified war strategy, and perhaps a boost in U.S. troop levels.

At least one more session is expected this week. But hanging over the discussions is the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Afghanistan's presidential election.

White House Chief Of Staff Rahm Emanuel says allegations of election fraud targeted at Afghan President Hamid Karzai could have an impact on the decision making process.

He told the CBS television program Face the Nation that it is up to the parties involved to settle the election dispute either through a run-off or some sort of power-sharing arrangement. But he stressed the United States wants to see the matter resolved, saying Washington must have a credible partner in Kabul.

Emanuel said U.S. forces are there to create the conditions under which the Afghans can successfully govern themselves.

"And the question is do you have a credible partner that could then fill that space that we are asking American troops to create?"

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The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts - has been in Afghanistan to get a first hand look at the situation.

In a taped appearance on Face the Nation, he too emphasized the importance of an Afghan government that, in his words, has the "capacity to deliver."

"I don't see how President Obama can make a decision about the committing of our additional forces or even the further fulfillment of our mission that is here today without an adequate government in place or knowledge about what that government is going to be," Kerry said.

While in Afghanistan, Kerry met at length with General Stanley McChrystal - the head of U.S. forces there. McChrystal has made clear he wants to see a substantial increase in American troops on Afghan soil.

The strongest supporters of a sharp rise in deployments appear to be Congressional Republicans.

John Thune of South Dakota - a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee - says the current political situation in Afghanistan should not deter the president from sending re-enforcements.

He told the Fox News Sunday television program America's national security interests must be paramount.

"What is important to me and I think what is important to most Americans, is that we have a strategy that can succeed and that it be properly resourced," Thune said. "I think that is the decision the president needs to make and I hope he will make it soon."

President Obama has said he intends to announce a decision on Afghanistan in the coming weeks.