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Afghanistan at 'Tipping Point'
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Afghanistan is at a "tipping point" ahead of an expected Taliban spring offensive, a think tank report warned yesterday as President Hamid Karzai was due for talks in London.

The Senlis Council said the United States and its allies need urgently to reassess their strategy in Afghanistan, where NATO forces are bracing for a major battle with insurgents as winter snows melt.

The report was released hours ahead of talks in London between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose country is the second biggest provider of troops in the country.

"The international community has reached a tipping point in southern Afghanistan," said the report by the Senlis Council think tank.

"The anticipated major spring offensive by the Taliban against international forces requires an urgent reassessment of the international community's counter-insurgency strategy," it said.

The United States, which ousted the Taliban following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, last year handed over overall control of military operations there to NATO.

Britain initially spearheaded the International Security Assistance Force's move into the volatile south of the country, but has faced fiercer than expected Taliban opposition.

Concern is now mounting ahead of an expected Taliban offensive as the winter ends, with observers warning that military defeat in the south could threaten the political stability of the whole country.

The Senlis Council said the West must shift its focus away from the military struggle and towards economic and humanitarian support for ordinary Afghans who it said had been "sorely neglected".

(China Daily via agencies February 15, 2007)

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