President Obama summoned his top commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal to a 25-minute meeting before returning to Washington.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs that Obama invited Gen. Stanley McChrystal to meet him Friday in the Dutch capital, where he was pitching the International Olympic Committee's on the United States' bid to host the games in Chicago.
The invitation comes as Obama reviews his Afghan strategy. Obama's war council met Wednesday and he invited McChrystal to Copenhagen before the commander joined by video linkup, The Associated Press reports.
News agencies also report, it was the first meeting in person between the two since General McChrystal took over all American and NATO forces on the ground in June. The two spoke only once after that, in a video conference call in August, until this week when the general joined a conference with the president by video to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama then spoke with the general by phone on Wednesday and realized he would be in London while the president was in Copenhagen and suggested they meet.
General McChrystal has requested as many as 40,000 more troops for the effort in Afghanistan and issued a dire report warning that without more forces the mission there will fail. Mr. Obama already sent an additional 21,000 troops earlier this year, for a total of 68,000 by this fall, and the prospect of even more reinforcements prompted a wholesale review of his policy.
The fact that Mr. Obama had not talked with General McChrystal since his report was submitted at the end of August generated criticism from some who thought he was too distant from his own top commander. The White House argued that the president did not want to regularly bypass the chain of command and got plenty of information through weekly meetings with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The New York Times reports.
The Washington Post quoted White House spokesman Robert Gibbs as saying, "The president wanted to take the opportunity to get together with General McChrystal." He did not immediately provide any details of the discussion.
White House officials are resisting McChrystal's call for urgent U.S. action on Afghanistan, which he underscored Thursday during a speech in London. Officials also are questioning important elements of the general's assessment, which calls for a vast expansion of an increasingly unpopular war. One senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the meeting, said, "A lot of assumptions -- and I don't want to say myths, but a lot of assumptions -- were exposed to the light of day," The Washington Post reports.
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