US' Kerry: decide Afghan vote before adding troops
WASHINGTON Oct 17 (Reuters) - It would be irresponsible of President Barack Obama to commit to sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan when the outcome of that country's election is undecided, U.S. Senator John Kerry said on Saturday.
In an interview with CNN's "State of the Union," Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the United States should not proceed with a new Afghan strategy involving more troops without a clear partner in Kabul.
"Look, it would be entirely irresponsible for the president of the United States to commit more troops to this country, when we don't even have an election finished and know who the president is and what kind of government we're working in," Kerry said from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
The interview with Kerry was to be aired on Sunday.
Allegations of fraud in the August elections have left Afghanistan in a state of political uncertainty at a time when Obama is deciding on sending more troops to fight the Taliban.
Kerry, who was defeated by George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential campaign, was among several high-level visitors to Afghanistan before an expected announcement on whether there would have to be a runoff election between President Hamid Karzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.
U.S.-led troops ousted the Taliban government after the Sept. 11 attacks for offering safe haven to al Qaeda, but the Islamist movement has regrouped into a formidable insurgency.
Casualties are rising among the 68,000 U.S. troops already in Afghanistan and Americans are tiring of war. U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has recommended sending 40,000 additional troops.
But Kerry rejected the idea that Obama's weeks of deliberations over a strategy conveyed weakness or indecision.
"I think this is being approached in an entirely responsible way," he told CNN.
The Democratic senator said it was important to give the U.S. military a mission that was achievable and that they American people could stay committed to.
"And when our own, you know, commanding general tells us that a critical component of achieving our mission here is, in fact, good governance, and we're living with a government that we know has to change and provide it, how could the president responsibly say, oh, they asked for more, sure, here they are?"
He said McChrystal had told him that even if Obama decided tomorrow to add troops, many wouldn't arrive until next year. (Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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