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Page last updated at 00:20 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 01:20 UK

UN urges stronger Afghan mission

US Marine in Afghanistan
President Obama is said to be unlikely to favour a large military increase

The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to extend the mandate of Nato-led troops in Afghanistan for a year and urged that it be reinforced.

A resolution called on "member states to contribute personnel, equipment and other resources" to the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

The renewal comes as the Obama administration is locked in a series of meetings on future troop deployment.

The top US commander has recommended sending an extra 40,000 troops.

However, sources close to the series of talks have suggested the administration is discussing whether it could work with "reconcilable" elements of the Taliban and concentrate on targeting al-Qaeda.

This might mean a lower number of additional troops, analysts say.

Gen Stanley McChrystal meets others senior offices (7 October 2009)
Gen McChrystal's troop request is said to include a range of options

However, a decision on this is not expected for several weeks.

The UN mandate renewal was fully expected but the resolution also stressed the need for reinforcement.

Britain's ambassador to the UN John Sawers denied this meant a specific call to increase troop levels.

He said: "We should have the forces there necessary to deliver on the tasks."

The Isaf force in Afghanistan has about 67,000 troops from 42 countries, about two-thirds from the US.

'Not the same'

The top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, is said to have presented US President Barack Obama with a range of options.

Although he favours the extra troops, he also presented the high-risk option of sending no reinforcements.

FROM BBC WORLD SERVICE

Senior aides have told the Associated Press that the emerging thinking suggests the president would be very unlikely to favour a large military increase of the kind advocated by Gen McChrystal.

They also say that although Mr Obama's developing strategy on the Taliban would "not tolerate their return to power" in Afghanistan, he would be prepared to accept a role for the militant group in some regions.

While still dangerous, the Taliban is considered an indigenous movement with local aims, rather than a transnational militant group like al-Qaeda, whose eradication was the aim of the US-led invasion eight years ago.

"They're not the same type of group," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

"It's certainly not backed up by any of the intelligence."

When asked later about working with elements of the Taliban, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "We are looking at every possible question that can be raised, including the one that you just asked, in order to determine the smartest approach."

Mr Obama has said the strategy in Afghanistan must be agreed before a decision can be made on troop numbers.

   

Isaf's major combat teams in Afghanistan

Major combat units

Isaf's provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan

Reconstruction teams

Over 40 countries contribute forces to the international mission in Afghanistan. Full details on the Isaf website.



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