Asia Crisis

Karzai says would welcome more American troops

WASHINGTON, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Tuesday he supports U.S. General Stanley McChrystal's assessment on Afghanistan and would welcome more American troops.

McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, is advocating a beefed-up counterinsurgency strategy that would include deploying 40,000 additional troops next year.

"I'm fully behind him for what he is seeking in his report," Karzai said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Asked whether he would welcome additional troops, Karzai replied, "Yes."

The United States has 65,000 troops in Afghanistan and that figure is expected to reach 68,000 later this year.

President Barack Obama is weighing different options for a new Afghanistan strategy and was expected to make a decision over the next several weeks.

Karzai said the number of troops would have to be determined by military experts.

"I'm not a military expert ... this is a professional matter that professionals have to talk and come out with a result to us," he said.

"What I am concerned about is the protection of the Afghan people. What I am concerned about is a successful implementation of our struggle against extremism and terrorism," Karzai said.

The result of Afghanistan's presidential election is expected within days, nearly two months after the Aug. 20 vote, as a U.N.-backed watchdog which found evidence of fraud determines how many votes were invalid. The outcome could affect the preliminary victory by Karzai over former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

"There were irregularities, there must also have been fraud committed, no doubt. But the election was good and fair and worthy of praise, not of scorn," Karzai said.

Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Vicki Allen