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US House Speaker Pelosi Meets Afghan President, US Troops January 28, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.
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KABUL (AP)–Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, ate breakfast with soldiers from California on Sunday before discussing a new U.S. pledge to Afghanistan of $10.6 billion with President Hamid Karzai, officials said.

Pelosi and Karzai discussed plans announced last week by the U.S. administration to ask Congress for $10.6 billion for Afghanistan, a major increase aimed at rebuilding the country and strengthening government security forces still fighting the Taliban five years after the U.S.-led invasion.

All but $2 billion of the new U.S. money would go toward security needs.

Pelosi, a Democrat from California, told Karzai that Afghanistan has bipartisan support in Congress, an Afghan government official said on condition of anonymity because he was talking about a high-level meeting. Members of Pelosi’s congressional delegation also told Karzai they hope to see more coordination and cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the official said.

The U.S. Department of Defense last week said a brigade of U.S. soldiers would stay in Afghanistan four months longer than planned – an effective troop increase of 3,200 soldiers.

Pelosi and Karzai spoke about possible further troop increases, the official said, but Karzai stressed his desire for Afghan security forces to be strengthened.

Earlier on Sunday, Pelosi and six other members of Congress spent about an hour at the main U.S. base in Bagram, where she thanked soldiers from the 10th Mountain and 82nd Airborne divisions for their service, said Lt. Col. David Accetta, a U.S. military spokesman. She also met with Maj. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, the top U.S. general here.

The seven-member delegation also met with U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann and Gen. David Richards, the outgoing commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The delegation didn’t talk to reporters.

The Congress members stopped in Pakistan Saturday, where Pelosi met with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and cooperation in countering terrorism, officials said.

A statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the U.S. delegation “lauded Pakistan’s role in the war against terrorism,” but Musharraf also faces mounting pressure from the U.S. to do more to prevent resurgent Taliban militants from using Pakistan’s remote tribal areas as a base for attacks on U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan.

Pelosi’s delegation earlier visited Iraq, where she met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The seven-member Democratic delegation also included Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; Rep. Tom Lantos of California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a strong advocate of a phased pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq.

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