Taliban not moving to overthrow, US says

Reuters / August 10, 2009

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WASHINGTON - The war in Afghanistan has not reached a crisis point despite gains by Taliban insurgents, US national security adviser Jim Jones said yesterday.

“I don’t think we’re at a crisis level where there is any move by the Taliban to overthrow the government,’’ Jones said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.’’

But he said Washington would not rule out an additional increase in US troop levels.

Violence has increased in Afghanistan in the last weeks of campaigning for the Aug. 20 presidential election, which militants vowed to disrupt.

The United States announced earlier this year that it was sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in a bid to counter the Taliban, who control a large swath of territory, and has named a new commander to lead the NATO-backed effort.

NATO has about 65,000 troops in Afghanistan, (with contributions from more than 40 countries) although about half of them are American. The United States has an additional 36,000 troops operating outside the NATO umbrella.

The Taliban have regrouped since being driven from power by US-led forces for harboring Al Qaeda leaders responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said Washington expected the election would proceed as scheduled.