Clinton urges Karzai to "root out corruption"; Australian PM Kevin Rudd visits Afghanistan; British PM Brown urges NATO allies to commit another 5000 troops; Two US C-27 aircraft handed over to Afghan Air Force;
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  • US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in Berlin on November 9 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, urged Afghan President ‘elect’ Karzai to "root out corruption." She stated that commitment from the US, Germany or other allies in helping stabilize Afghanistan will depend on the actions that the Karzai government takes to deal with the problem of corruption.1

    Australian PM Kevin Rudd paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan to spend Remembrance Day (November 11) with Australian troops. Australia has about 1,500 soldiers serving in the country, the largest contribution of any country outside of NATO.2

    British PM Gordon Brown, in an interview on BBC Radio 4 stated that he was urging other coalition partners to commit another 5,000 troops to NATO operations in Afghanistan. Dismissing reports of engaging in negotiations with the Taliban, Mr. Brown however stated "mercenaries" fighting for the Taliban could be re-integrated into Afghan society. Britain has already announced that it will send 500 more troops to the country.3

    Meanwhile, two C-27 aircraft, part of the 20 pledged by the US to Afghanistan, were handed over to the Afghan Air Force. The other aircrafts would be handed within the next two years. Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak appreciated the US contribution and hoped that it will continue its support. US Commander Gen. McChrystal stated that the US will continue to help strengthen Afghan armed forces and noted that the Afghan national army, currently numbering more than 80,000 troops, will be around 134,000 by 2010.4

    In other developments, US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry expressed reservations about the utility of deploying additional troops to Afghanistan. His opinion was in contrast to Gen. McChrystal, who has requested for 40,000 additional troops.5 Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on his part stated that the administration was trying to work out a compromise strategy which will indicate a commitment to Afghanistan with conveying to the Karzai government that American military presence would not be indefinite.6