Obama forges new Pakistan, Afghanistan anti-terror front

May 7th, 2009 - 10:34 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 7 (IANS) President Barack Obama has won a promise from Pakistan and Afghanistan to forge a new front in the fight against extremists, saying the security of both countries and the US is linked.

Presidents Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan understand the seriousness of the threat from Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the border region between the two nations, Obama said Wednesday after a trilateral summit at the White House.

“Our strategy reflects a fundamental truth: The security of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States are linked,” Obama said with Karzai and Zardari at his side.

He had invited the two leaders to the White House in the hope of easing ease years of mistrust between the neighbours and push for a combined drive to crush the Taliban and Al Qaida.

For his part Zardari is seeking US military aid and political support, while Karzai hopes to purge Taliban havens in Pakistan which are destabilising his country.

“I’m pleased that these two men, elected leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, fully appreciate the seriousness of the threat that we face, and have reaffirmed their commitment to confronting it,” Obama said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meanwhile said the talks, which will continue at cabinet level Thursday, were showing “very promising early signs.”

Obama said the leaders of the three nations are meeting “as three sovereign nations joined by a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat” Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

To do so, Obama said, the three nations have to deny extremists space to operate and bring a better life to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Al Qaeda and its allies are responsible for killing innocent civilians and challenging the democratically elected governments in the nations, Obama said.

The United States has made a “lasting commitment [that it] will not waver” in efforts to defeat extremists and support the Afghan and Pakistani governments, he said.

Clinton held talks with the Afghan and Pakistani leaders earlier in the day. Foreign, defence, intelligence and agriculture ministers from both countries and a number of key officials in the Obama administration including US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Gen. David Petraeus, CIA Director Leon Panetta and FBI Director Robert Mueller joined the talks.

The diverse group, Clinton said, reflects the fact that “promoting peace must be an all-government effort.”

Clinton said the talks will address “concrete initiatives” on improving security, boosting economic development and trade and increasing opportunities for both populations.

Zardari and Karzai pledged to work together with the US to combat extremists and stabilize their two countries.

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