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Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Afghanistan war 'far from lost'

By Oana Lungescu
BBC News, Brussels

A member of the U.S. Army 1-6 Field Artillery division
The US says that a new strategy is needed for Afghanistan

Vice-President Joe Biden has said the US is not winning in Afghanistan but the war was "far from lost".

Speaking after talks at Nato's HQ in Brussels, Mr Biden called on American allies to help tackle the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He said this posed a threat to all Nato members.

His comments represent a sharp change in tone and substance from the new US administration when dealing with the conflict in Afghanistan.

'Worth exploring'

Like President Obama and top generals on the ground, Mr Biden admitted the US was not winning.

But, he said, the war was far from lost.

And he described talks with moderate elements in the Taleban as a tactic worth exploring.

Joe Biden (L) and Hamid Karzai meet at the presidential palace in Kabul, 10 January 2009
Afghanistan is a US foreign policy priority
He appealed to Nato allies to help forge a new strategy to fight the common threat from extremists on the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We know that it was from the very same area that extremists planned virtually every major terrorist attack on Europe since 9/11 and the attack on Mumbai," he said.

"We know that it was from this same area that al-Qaeda and its extremist allies are regenerating and conceiving new atrocities to visit upon us."

The US is sending 17,000 extra troops to Afghanistan but Mr Biden made no request for more troops from America's often reluctant European allies.

He said that President Obama wanted to listen and consult before completing a strategy review for the region in time for the Nato summit in early April.

But, Mr Biden insisted, Washington would expect everyone to abide by whatever commitments are agreed at the summit itself.



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