Report: US Troop Morale Down in Afghanistan
Report: US Troop Morale Down in Afghanistan

U.S. President Barack Obama says his administration is presenting "very clear benchmarks" for the Afghan government to secure the war-torn country.

Mr. Obama did not elaborate on those measures during an interview with CNN, saying only that the U.S. has a vital interest in making sure that Afghanistan is "sufficiently stable."

The president has promised a decision soon on if or how he will reinforce the nearly 68,000 U.S. troops fighting militants in Afghanistan.  But Mr. Obama said he first must clearly convey to the American people that it is imperative to make sure that al-Qaida cannot attack Americans or use Afghanistan as a "safe haven."

U.S. officials have said a key issue for the president is the credibility of Afghan President Hamid Karzai as a partner in his country's war.  

Mr. Obama said on the eve of Mr. Karzai's inauguration that he is less concerned with trustworthiness of one individual than he is with trustworthiness of a government as a whole.  He said a government has to provide basic services to its people in a way that confers legitimacy.

On Tuesday, NATO's secretary-general said he is confident allies will send "substantially more troops" to Afghanistan, giving new momentum to the mission.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a NATO parliamentary assembly in Scotland he expects more forces for the war-torn country, but only as part of a wider strategy to eventually hand over security to Afghans.