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US envoy anxious over possible troop increase

The US envoy to Afghanistan has sent memos to Washington expressing concern over the possible deployment of more troops to the country until President Hamid Karzai's government shows it can tackle widespread corruption, media reports say.


AFP - The US envoy to Afghanistan has written memos to Washington expressing deep concern over possible deployment of thousands of new troops to the country, US media said Wednesday, citing senior US officials.

Ambassador Karl Eikenberry's classified cables reportedly detail his strong reservations against sending reinforcements until Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government shows it can tackle insipid corruption that has spurred the Taliban's resurgence, The Washington Post and New York Times said.

Eikenberry's cables also expressed worries over Karzai's erratic behavior, according to US officials familiar with the memos, the Post said.

The correspondence was sent ahead of President Barack Obama's critical war cabinet meeting Wednesday at the White House on what course to pursue against the bloody insurgency in the country.

Eikenberry joined the policy meeting by video link from Kabul, said the Times, adding that Obama discussed his concerns with him, according to officials who requested anonymity.

The envoy also voiced concern that sending tens of thousands of additional troops to the war-wracked country would boost Afghanistan's reliance on US security forces as the Obama administration calls on Kabul to take over more responsibility in the conflict.

Eikenberry's views are in stark contrast to top US and NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal who warned that without tens of thousands more US troops in the next 12 months, the Afghan mission "will likely result in failure."

Four options were on the table at high-stakes talks in the White House situation room, which also involved McChrystal and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, after which officials reported the president had not yet made a decision.

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