Obama backs country’s right to defend itself if attacked

December 8th, 2008 - 1:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Dec 8 (IANS) US president-elect Barack Obama has reiterated the “basic principle” that if attacked a country has the right to defend itself, but would not say if India had the right to go after terrorists inside Pakistan after the Mumbai terror attacks.”Well, I’m not going to comment on that. What I’m going to restate is a basic principle,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday when asked if India now has the right of hot pursuit since he had said that the US reserves the right to go after terrorists in Pakistan if it had targets of opportunity.

“Number one, if a country is attacked, it has the right to defend itself. I think that’s universally acknowledged.

“The second thing is that we need a strategic partnership with all the parties in the region - Pakistan, and India, and the Afghan government - to stamp out the kind of militant, violent, terrorist extremists that have set up base camps and that are operating in ways that threaten the security of everybody in the international community.”

“We can’t continue to look at Afghanistan in isolation. We have to see it as a part of a regional problem that includes Pakistan, includes India, includes Kashmir, includes Iran,” the president-elect said.

Obama said part of the kind of foreign policy he wanted to shape is one in which “we have tough, direct diplomacy combined with more effective military operations, focused on what is the number-one threat against US interests and US lives, and that’s Al Qaida and their various affiliates”.

“And we are going to go after them fiercely in the years to come,” he added.

Asked to comment on Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s stated expectation of a re-examination of the American policy of using unmanned missiles for attacks on terrorist camps in Pakistan, Obama said he wanted to create an effective strategic partnership with Islamabad.

“What I want to do is to create the kind of effective strategic partnership with Pakistan that allows us, in concert, to assure that terrorists are not setting up safe havens in some of these border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Asked how he planned to get the US out of Afghanistan, Obama suggested a combination of more effective military action and much more effective diplomacy in the region.

“We can’t solve Afghanistan without solving Pakistan and working more effectively with that country,” he said. “And we are going to have to make sure that India and Pakistan are normalising their relationship if we’re going to be effective in some of these other areas.”

On Iran, Obama proposed a carrot and stick approach saying his administration would be “willing to talk to them directly and give them a clear choice and ultimately let them make a determination in terms of whether they want to do this the hard way or the easy way”.

“In terms of carrots, I think that we can provide economic incentives that would be helpful to a country that, despite being a net oil-producer, is under enormous strain, huge inflation, a lot of unemployment problems there.”

“But we also have to focus on the sticks. And one of the main things that diplomacy can accomplish is to help knit together the kind of coalition with China, and India, and Russia, and other countries that now do business with Iran to agree that, in order for us to change Iran’s behaviour, we may have to tighten up those sanctions.”

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