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U.S. Says Some Allies Open To Afghan Troop Boost

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to start talking "specifics" at the upcoming meetings.
LONDON (Reuters) -- Some U.S. allies are open to boosting troop levels in Afghanistan to back President Barack Obama's new strategy, but he will not press for concrete commitments at this week's NATO summit, U.S. officials said.

"The NATO summit is not a pledging conference" on manpower and resources for the Afghan war effort, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, outlining Obama's approach to leaders who have mostly seemed reluctant to deploy more forces.

While making clear Obama would not push too hard at the summit that opens late on April 3 on the French-German border, Clinton echoed his assertion that more international help was needed to turn the tide in Afghanistan.

She said Obama would start talking "specifics" at the NATO meeting and also at a European Union summit next week in Prague.

Obama wants NATO backing for a strategy he unveiled last week to tackle a worsening insurgency in Afghanistan, a conflict he inherited from his predecessor George W. Bush.

It broadens the focus to include Pakistan and puts the highest priority on the defeat of Al-Qaeda militants who Obama says are plotting new attacks on the United States.

Having already announced plans to send 17,000 extra U.S. combat troops to Afghanistan, Obama said he would send 4,000 more to help train the Afghan National Army and add civilian personnel to tackle problems such as the booming narcotics trade.

NATO's Afghanistan mission has been criticized for disorganization but European leaders have been wary about sending more forces to fight a war that has become increasingly unpopular their voters.