Obama to meet with presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan (Lead)

May 2nd, 2009 - 11:00 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 2 (IANS) President Barack Obama will host a summit with the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan Wednesday to “accelerate the process of cooperation between the two countries” to take on a resurgent Taliban in the region.

Obama will hold separate meetings and a joint summit with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan at the White House, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced Friday.

“The president looks forward to discussing with these two democratically elected leaders how we can work together to enhance our cooperation in this important part of the world as the United States implements a new strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said top officials from both countries would also visit but did not say whether they would include her counterparts Shah Mehmood Qureshi of Pakistan and Rangeen Dadfar Spanta of Afghanistan.

Clinton, who held three-way talks with the two foreign ministers here in February, said: “The trilateral format is quite helpful at beginning to change mindsets and, frankly, set forth some requirements about what we expect from these governments.”

“We’ll have some very intense sessions on the specifics of what we’re trying to accomplish,” she said at a meeting with foreign service officers at the State Department.

“In Pakistan, it’s a very difficult environment because of the confusion among the civilian and military leadership about how to prioritise what is the greatest threat to Pakistan going forward.

“We think that there are a number of important missions in Afghanistan, but we can only do a few. And we have to count on our allies and partners to do others,” she said.

Obama said at his news conference Wednesday that Pakistan’s powerful military was starting to recognise that its “obsession with India as the mortal threat to Pakistan has been misguided, and that their biggest threat right now comes internally.”

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