US keeps option to use troops to secure Pakistan’s n-arsenal

May 17th, 2009 - 9:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 17 (IANS) President Barack Obama has reiterated his confidence that the Pakistani military is equipped to prevent extremists from taking over its nuclear arsenal, but would not rule out the option of sending US troops to secure them.

As the US tries to strengthen Islambad as a partner, he also sees “a decided shift” in the Pakistan Army’s recognition that extremism is a much more immediate and serious threat than the one from India that they’ve traditionally focused on.

“As commander in chief, I have to consider all options, but I think that Pakistan’s sovereignty has to be respected,” he said in an interview with Newsweek when asked if he would be willing to have American troops secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons if the country gets less stable.

However, Obama reiterated his confidence that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is safe and Pakistani military is equipped to prevent extremists from taking them over.

“I don’t want to engage in hypotheticals around Pakistan, other than to say we have confidence that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is safe; that the Pakistani military is equipped to prevent extremists from taking over those arsenals,” he said.

“We are trying to strengthen them as a partner,” Obama said. “And one of the encouraging things is, over the last several weeks we’ve seen a decided shift in the Pakistan Army’s recognition that the threat from extremism is a much more immediate and serious one than the threat from India that they’ve traditionally focused on.”

Asked how he reached the decision to send 17,000 additional troops into Afghanistan, Obama said as Taliban made advances there was a recognition “that the instability along the border region was destabilising Pakistan as well”.

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Posted in South Asia |

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