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Obama to NATO: Help needed to fight terrorists

President Obama arrives in Strasbourg, France, for a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

President Obama arrives in Strasbourg, France, for a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

STRASBOURG, France – President Obama issued a stern warning to his European allies Friday on the eve of a NATO summit meeting, saying the United States needs more help in rooting out terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Europe should not simply expect the United States to shoulder that burden alone,” he said at a town hall-style event near the German border here. “This is a joint problem, and it requires joint effort.”

It’s a message Obama delivered as he crisscrossed the border for meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In Baden-Baden, Germany, Obama said his Afghanistan war strategy does not envision NATO troops in Pakistan. He has previously ruled out deploying U.S. troops to that country.

Merkel said her country wants to bear its share of the responsibility in Afghanistan, and Obama thanked her for what Germany already has done.

But Obama also said: “We do expect that all NATO partners are going to contribute. They have thus far, but the progress in some cases has been uneven.”

On Saturday, Obama will take his case to NATO’s 60th anniversary conference here.

Obama is adding 21,000 troops and trainers to Afghanistan on top of the 38,000 Americans already there. NATO has about 32,000 troops in the country.

White House national security adviser James Jones said he expects more contributions to be announced at Saturday’s conference, though he would not specify a number.

Speaking to a largely student audience of 3,500 at a sports arena here, Obama made clear he wants Europe to pitch in to battle terrorists who maintain what he called a “twisted, distorted ideology.”

His audience applauded his calls for “a world without nuclear weapons,” a message he will drive home Sunday in what’s billed as the major address of his eight-day trip.

They reacted enthusiastically to his call for combating global warming, closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and prohibiting the torture of prisoners.

Elsewhere in Strasbourg, police fired tear gas at rock-hurling protesters Friday in the first real confrontation with demonstrators after hours of mostly small, scattered and peaceful rallies. Some 15,000 German police – including 31 riot squads – and 9,000 French police are on call for the summit.

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