Obama names special envoy for ‘perilous’ Afghanistan-Pakistan region (Second lead)

January 23rd, 2009 - 5:56 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 23 (IANS) President Barack Obama has named former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke as special epresentative for Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat terror and extremism in the “perilous” region.Holbrooke “one of the most talented diplomats of his generation,” will help lead US “effort to forge and implement a strategic and a sustainable approach to this critical region, Obama said on a visit Thursday to the State Department with Vice President Joe Biden.

“Al Qaeda and the Taliban strike from bases embedded in rugged tribal terrain along the Pakistani border,” the new president said as his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, announced the names of two special envoys.

The other envoy named was former Democrat senate majority leader George Mitchell for Middle East. “And while we have yet to see another attack on our soil since 9/11, Al Qaeda terrorists remain at large and remain plotting,” he said.

“Going forward, we must set clear priorities in pursuit of achievable goals that contribute to our collective security.”

Obama said his administration “is committed to refocusing attention and resources on Afghanistan and Pakistan and to spending those resources wisely. And that’s why we are pursuing a careful review of our policy”.

US, he said, “will seek stronger partnerships with the governments of the region, sustained cooperation with our NATO allies, deeper engagement with the Afghan and Pakistani people and a comprehensive strategy to combat terror and extremism”.

“The American people and the international community must understand that the situation is perilous and progress will take time,” said Obama noting, “Violence is up dramatically in Afghanistan. A deadly insurgency has taken deep root.”

The appointments of Holbrooke and Mitchell, he said, “add to a team that will work with energy and purpose to meet the challenges of our time and to define a future of expanding security and opportunity.”

“Difficult days lie ahead. As we ask more of ourselves, we will seek new partnerships and ask more of our friends and more of people around the globe, because security in the 21st century is shared.”

“But let there be no doubt about America’s commitment to lead. We can no longer afford drift, and we can no longer afford delay, nor can we cede ground to those who seek destruction,” Obama declared.

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