As a candidate, Barack Obama came to Europe selling a notion of change, particularly the end of a deeply unpopular U.S. administration. He was greeted by a jubilant throng of 200,000 for his speech in Berlin.

As president, Obama returns with a much more difficult sales pitch: convincing NATO allies to sign on to his revamped Afghanistan war plan and contribute more troops to the effort. Judging by European leaders’ comments in the days leading up NATO’s 60th anniversary summit this week, he faces a tougher audience this time around.

"This is not President Obama’s war," Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the NATO chief, told Bloomberg News. He warned against "Americanization" of the war and said Europe should contribute more troops to avoid "a mission which is out of balance."

On the same day, German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said his country — which contributes some 3,500 troops, mainly in the north — is opposed to reconciliation efforts with the Taliban, a core idea of Obama’s new Afghan strategy.

Jung rejected the idea that there are distinctions between elements of the Taliban, and that NATO should seek to separate the movement.

"From my perspective, there is no differentiation. When I was just in Afghanistan, we spoke with many tribal chiefs who said ‘Taliban is Taliban,’ " according to a translated transcript of his comments to reporters this week in Berlin.

Germany has balked at sending more troops to Afghanistan. Britain signaled that it was willing to send up to 2,000 more — to bring its contingent to around 10,000 — but other allies have been slow to follow suit.

NATO commanders have said in recent months that forces in much of the south and east are at a stalemate.

Taliban militants have stepped up roadside bomb and suicide attacks, though direct fights with alliance troops are more rare.

Obama has ordered around 21,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan this year, which would bring the total to around 55,000. NATO currently has around 32,000 troops, but many operate in limited areas or under national caveats that limit their roles. The U.S. has long called for more participation by other nations, sometimes putting strains on the alliance.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates last year went so far as to say NATO risked becoming a "two-tiered" alliance, a comment that upset European leaders.

Over the next two days in Strasbourg, France, and Baden-Baden, Germany, Obama’s popularity with European leaders will be tested.

U.S. officials have called for at least four more NATO battalions in Afghanistan by this summer, in addition to trainers who are desperately needed to grow the Afghan security forces. Obama’s new strategy would nearly double Afghan security forces.

Obama’s call for European help is not new.

Indeed, during his Berlin speech, he said, "The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaida ... We have too much at stake to turn back now."

In his speech last Friday defining some elements of the new plan, Obama asked NATO for "not simply troops, but rather clearly defined capabilities: supporting Afghan elections, training Afghan security forces, a greater civilian commitment."

Europeans reacted largely positively to the announcement, but it remains to be seen how far they will go to help.

"We want to make this mission a success and that means giving Afghanistan the means to take care of its own security ... Germany is ready to do its duty," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a weekend speech posted on her Web site.

Merkel’s rival in this year’s German elections, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Obama’s plan is "much, much closer" to European ideas.

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