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U.S. Commander McChrystal Sees Afghan Turnaround

U.S. General Stanley McChrystal (file photo)
ISTANBUL (Reuters) -- The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan has said the security situation remains serious but is no longer deteriorating, offering a more upbeat assessment than other military and intelligence officials.

General Stanley McChrystal and other top commanders made dire warnings last summer about Afghanistan's worsening security situation, prompting U.S. President Barack Obama to overhaul the war strategy and to send 30,000 more troops to combat a resurgent Taliban.

"I still will tell you that I believe the situation in Afghanistan is serious. I do not say now that I think it's deteriorating. I think and I said that last summer, and I believed that that was correct. I feel differently now," McChrystal told reporters in Istanbul on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

However, McChrystal also cautioned, "I'm not prepared to say that we've turned the corner."

Other top U.S. military and intelligence officials, in congressional hearings earlier this week, warned the Taliban-led insurgency was rapidly spreading across the country.

Dennis Blair, the U.S. director of national intelligence, had told lawmakers the insurgency "has become increasingly dangerous and destabilizing."

The director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, said U.S. troops face an "increasingly capable insurgency," citing the Afghan government's "inability to extend security throughout the country, and insurgent access to sanctuaries in Pakistan."