Barack Obama left Britain for France today, arriving to cheering crowds in Strasbourg along the Franco-German border. Ahead of this weekend's NATO summit, Obama held a meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy, who recently returned France to full membership of the military alliance after decades on the sidelines. Obama will be pushing for further NATO support for the war in Afghanistan despite deep reluctance from some European partners.
The president wants "a strong partnership with Europe, but in that partnership there has to be mutual responsibilities," says press chief Robert Gibbs. Obama is expected to boost American troop levels in Afghanistan from 38,000 to 68,000 by the end of the year, meaning that US troops will outnumber coalition partners by more than two to one. Allies may send several thousand more troops for this summer's elections, but they will not be permanently deployed.