US allies await decision on Afghanistan

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MARCO WERMAN: The dim prospects for talks with the Taliban in the short term are cause for concern not just for the Obama Administration, but for its partners in Afghanistan. The U.S. and NATO Commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has asked for up to 40,000 more soldiers to head to the region. And he's hoping many of those troops will come from outside the U.S., but as The World's Laura Lynch reports, Washington's allies are concerned about the future of the military campaign.

LAURA LYNCH: Aside from the United States, 41 countries have troops in Afghanistan, including Jordan, Lithuania, Australia and Singapore to name a few. Their contributions are dwarfed by America's 65,000 soldiers. But for many of those other nations, the U.S. debate about the future of the mission matters a lot. Italians are now struggling to make sense of the mission after six of their soldiers died in Kabul last month.

ITALIAN MAN: But I think that it probably is the right choice of being in Afghanistan.

ITALIAN WOMAN: I would like that they would come back for the family of the military.

ITALIAN MAN: I hope that they should come back to Italy. I think there is a lot of confusion about this.

ITALIAN WOMAN: Italian people hope that the war must finish as soon as possible, but also that coming now it's wrong.

LYNCH: As President Obama considers the American military commitment, he's well aware other coalition countries are watching closely. He needs their solidarity and support in order to move forward with any plan, and he appears to have a partner in the head of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Today, Rasmussen urged NATO members to continue contributing equipment, money and personnel to train the Afghan army and police.

RASMUSSEN: This is an investment in a stronger, self-sustaining Afghanistan, which is in our shared interest. We need to do more now so we can do less later.

LYNCH: The sales job is meant to appeal not just to politicians, but also to the public who may be wavering. Just today, the BBC released a survey suggesting 56% of people in Britain oppose the country's military operations in Afghanistan. But that level of opposition pales in comparison to the Netherlands. Just last night, the Dutch Parliament voted to pull its troops out of Afghanistan next year. Dick Loowehdank of the Netherlands Institute for International Relations, isn't surprised, based on what he saw when he visited Afghanistan last year.

DICK LOOWEHDANK: When I came back, my conclusion was the Dutch find themselves in an extremely difficult situation over there

LYNCH: Twenty-one Dutch soldiers have died in the three years they've served in the violent Ouruzgan region of Southern Afghanistan. Dutch politician Martin Havercamp is urging President Obama to make a decision quickly, and Havercamp is hoping the White House will give the Dutch a break.

HAVERCAMP: Everybody is looking at the Netherlands for another tour in Ouruzgan. And if the United States or some other country could say to our population yes you have done your share, we'll take over the burden. Please can you assist us in some way? Then, we have a different debate in the Netherlands and I think it would be easier for us.

LYNCH: That's a request that's not likely to go down well in Washington where finding the right solution for Afghanistan seems to get harder every day. For The World, I'm Laura Lynch.