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게이츠 미 국방장관, NATO에 아프간 병력 증파 촉구 (E)


로버트 게이츠 미국 국방장관은 리투아니아에서 열린 북대서양조약기구, NATO 회의에서 회원국 정부들에게 아프가니스탄에 대한 병력 증파를 요청했습니다. 게이츠 장관은 또 현재 아프가니스탄이 위기상황에 있는 것으로 생각하지 않는다고 말했습니다.

로버트 게이츠 미국 국방장관은 리투아니아에서 지난 6일부터 이틀 간의 일정으로 열린 북대서양조약기구NATO 국방장관 회의 첫째 날, 회원국들에게 아프가니스탄 병력 증파를 요청했다고 말했습니다.

게이츠 장관은 자신은 다른 회원국들에게 아프가니스탄에 더 많은 지원과 그 곳의 군 지도자들이 요청한 도움을 제공하기 위해 각자가 할 수 있는 일을 제공할 것, 그리고 좀 더창의적인 기여 방법들을 검토할 것 등을 촉구했다고 말했습니다.

많은 유럽 국가들은 아프가니스탄의 재건과 경제개발의 필요성을 강조하고 있습니다. 이에 대해 게이츠 장관은 미국은 그 같은 의견에 동의하는 동시에 아프가니스탄에 좀 더 많은 병력이 필요하고, 또 병력에 대한 파병국가들의 제약이 덜 가해져야 한다고 생각한다는 점을 명확히 밝혔습니다.

게이츠 장관은 미국은 점점 더 자국으로부터 제재가 없고, 전투에 스스로 참가할 의지가 있는 병력의 기여에 관심을 갖고 있다고 밝혔습니다.

게이츠 장관은 이에 앞서 6일, NATO군은 앞으로 전투국과 비전투국의 2단계 동맹으로 분리, 발전될 수 있을 것이라고 말했습니다.

하지만 게이츠 장관은 이날 열린 회의 결과에 매우 고무됐다고 말했습니다.

게이츠 장관은 자신은 아프가니스탄이 실패의 위기에 직면했다고 생각하지 않는다며, 아프가니스탄은 좀 더 많은 병력이 파병되면 더 빠른 발전을 이룰 수 있는 가능성이 있는 것으로 본다고 말했습니다.

게이츠 장관은 지난 11월 이후 추가로 미 해병대를 파견하지 않을 것이라며, 다른 NATO 회원국들이 대체 병력을 제공해 줄 것을 요청했습니다. 캐나다 역시 동맹국들의 추가 원조가 없으면 내년에 남부 아프가니스탄으로부터 철수할 것이라는 입장을 밝혔습니다.

게이츠 장관은 일부 유럽국가들이 아프가니스탄 추가 파병을 검토할 때 직면하는 정치적 어려움과 반대여론을 이해한다면서도, 장비와 비용 분담 등에서 더 많은 참여가 반드시 필요하다고 말했습니다.

지금까지 소수의 나토 회원국들이 아프가니스탄에 약간의 병력 증파 가능성을 시사한 바 있습니다. 하지만 오는 4월 루마니아에서 열리는 NATO정상회의 때까지는 아프가니스탄 추가 병력 파병과 관련한 어떠한 중대 발표도 없을 것으로 전망되고 있습니다.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates did as he promised at a NATO meeting in Lithuania Thursday, he again urged other allies to provide more troops for Afghanistan. But he also says he does not believe there is a crisis in the country, and he understands the political difficulties some allies face. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Vilnius.

Secretary Gates had said he would "nag" NATO allies again to send more troops to Afghanistan, and he says that is what he did on the first of two days of meetings here.

"I called on the other allies to make further commitments to the mission, to do what they could to meet unmet needs as articulated by the commanders out there, and to consider other, more creative, ways that they may be able to contribute," he said.

Many European governments stress the need for more efforts on reconstruction and economic development in Afghanistan. But while Secretary Gates agrees with that, he made clear that the United States believes more troops are needed, too, and with fewer restrictions imposed by their home governments.

"What we are obviously interested in is more who will have no caveats on their forces, and those who are willing to engage in the fight itself," he added.

After a NATO meeting last October, Secretary Gates sharply criticized some allies for not fulfilling their commitments and for putting the alliance's Afghanistan mission at what he called "real risk." Last month, he announced the deployment of 3,200 U.S. Marines, most of them to restive southern Afghanistan, to ensure gains made against the Taliban are not lost.

On Wednesday, Secretary Gates said NATO could evolve into a two-tier alliance, with fighters and non-fighters, but the secretary said he was encouraged after Thursday's meetings.

"I do not think that there is a crisis," he explained. "I do not think that there is a risk of failure. My view is that it represents potentially the opportunity to make further progress faster in Afghanistan if we had more forces there."

Secretary Gates says he will not send more Marines when this deployment ends in November, and he wants other NATO members to provide replacement forces. In addition, Canada has said it will withdraw from southern Afghanistan next year if it does not get more help from the allies.

Secretary Gates says he understands the political difficulties and public opposition some European governments face when they consider sending more troops to Afghanistan, but he says more must be done, perhaps by sending equipment and paying costs.

A few countries indicated they might send a few more troops to Afghanistan, but no major announcements are expected until the NATO summit in April in Romania.

At a separate news conference, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer noted that NATO has increased its troop presence in Afghanistan by more than 8,000 in the past year, and he disputed claims that the mission is close to failing.

Scheffer also had strong words for the government of Afghanistan, saying it cannot rely on NATO to do everything for the country.

"We do not own it," he said. "The Afghan people own their own nation. And it is up to the Afghan government to be responsible for the fight against corruption, to play their role in the fight against narcotics to see that law and order is there in the full sense of the word. That is their responsibility."

Scheffer said he is "cautiously optimistic" that NATO will succeed in Afghanistan, but he also said it will take patience and a long-term commitment. He is working on a strategy document to be approved at the summit that U.S. officials say is designed in part to convince Europeans that creating a stable Afghanistan is important for their security, so they will support their governments sending more troops

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