Fight against terrorism top priority, Obama tells Karzai

November 23rd, 2008 - 7:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaKabul, Nov 23 (DPA) US president-elect Barack Obama told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the fight against terrorism in the region and bringing security to the war-torn Afghanistan would be the top priority of his government, the Afghan presidential palace said Sunday.Obama assured President Karzai in a telephone conversation Saturday night that the US assistance to Afghanistan would increase when he takes office in January, Karzai’s office said in a statement.

This the first direct contact between Karzai and Obama since the Nov 4 US election.

“Obama emphasized that the US is committed to helping the people of Afghanistan in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan and therefore the US would increase its assistance and pay more attention to Afghanistan,” the statement said.

“The president-elect also said that the fight against terrorism and bringing security to Afghanistan, the region and to the world was one of the priorities of his government,” it said.

During the presidential campaign, Obama had several times criticized Karzai for not being able to curb the rampant corruption in his government and for failing to provide basic services to his countrymen.

But Karzai, who has ruled the country since late 2001, blamed lack of assistance pledged by the international communities and the civilian casualties caused during the NATO military operations as reasons behind the Afghan people’s frustration.

Obama had also said as a president he would divert attention from war in Iraq to Afghanistan. He explicitly had mentioned that he would pursue the Taliban and their Al Qaeda associates inside the Pakistani territory, a move that would be widely supported by the Afghans.

Afghan officials and its public have repeatedly pointed the finger at Pakistani tribal areas, where they claimed that Taliban and Al Qaeda militants are given sanctuaries.

There are more than 32,000 US troops in Afghanistan. The president-elect has pledged to send extra troops to clamp down on militants during his administration.

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