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One-Day Meeting Hopes To Boost Afghanistan


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning. This week, President Obama's administration tries to show progress on a tricky campaign promise. It's the promise of closer relations between the U.S. and its allies. When he visited Berlin last year, he warned Europeans that if he were to be elected, he would still be calling them to action.

BARACK OBAMA: In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more, not less.

MONTAGNE: Now the new president is finding out how much more he can expect. Mr. Obama and key members of his administration are traveling to Europe for a series of meetings on the economy, NATO and Afghanistan. In a moment, we'll talk with the president's national security advisor. We begin with NPR's Michele Kelemen. She's with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a conference on Afghanistan. Hello, Michele.

MICHELE KELEMEN: Good morning, Renee.

MARTIN: Now what is the U.S. wanting from the dozens of leaders gathered where you are there at The Hague?

KELEMEN: It's hard politically in many of these countries to do that, but they have suggested doing more, for instance, on police training. And you have others like Japan, for example, that plans to get more aid, actually paying police salaries, perhaps. So U.S. officials, while they say this is not a pledging conference - they keep sort of downplaying expectations about that - they do come here asking Europeans, others to do more, particularly on the civilian side of this mission.

MARTIN: The Obama administration has dropped the term war on terror. Does that mean anything in terms of administration policy?

KELEMEN: Well, I think it's part of this reaching out to Europe, frankly. I mean, she said there was no directive on that, but she did say with a smile to us on the plane that they don't use that language anymore. It was controversial language, particularly here in Europe.

MARTIN: Well, Iran is also attending this conference. Is the secretary of state making any kind of direct appeal to them?

KELEMEN: It may not be an easy encounter, though. The Iranian deputy foreign minister who's here has already been quoted as saying he thinks the presence of foreign troops cannot bring peace and stability for Afghanistan.

MARTIN: Michele, thanks very much.

KELEMEN: Thank You.

MARTIN: And there is Michele Kelemen, reporting from The Hague in the Netherlands. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.