US to press Pakistan, Afghanistan on Taliban

May 6th, 2009 - 1:49 pm ICT by ANI  

Taliban Washington, May 6 (ANI): When President Barack Obama meets both Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai here today, he will stress that both are facing the same enemy and need to overcome their mistrust to ensure that joint efforts against the Taliban are not hampered.

Obama administration officials say their approach toward Pakistan and Afghanistan differs from the Bush administrations’ in important ways.

“We’d like an alliance with these two countries against this common threat. It’s very simple, but very profound,” an official said at a briefing for reporters on Tuesday.

Another senior official said Washington would be watching Pakistan closely to see if it pulls back after the concerted effort against militants.

“The past week has reflected a considerable degree of seriousness. We’ll see what follows after this. We’ll be watching intently,” the official said. American officials are worried that the urgency among Pakistani officials for taking far-reaching steps against the Taliban will also shrivel as the immediate crisis fades.

“We have seen - I have certainly seen - over the last couple of years, bursts of fighting and engagement … and they are not sustained,” Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Monday after a recent visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The administration also played down reports it was losing faith in Zardari. “We are working very hard to help the Pakistani government in its hour of need,” said a senior administration official. “We are not abandoning them. Nor are we distancing ourselves from Asif Ali Zardari.”

In preparation for the three-way meetings, aides have been discussing the details of an expanded U.S. aid program aimed at encouraging Pakistan not to slip back into ignoring the militant threat it faces.

U.S. officials in recent years have used a combination of encouragement and pressure aimed at Pakistan government in hopes of heading off efforts to reach short-term peace deals with the militants.

U.S. officials have also signaled their interest in reaching out to Zardari’s political opponents, a move apparently aimed at reminding him ahead of his meeting with Obama that support from Washington should not be taken for granted.

Obama has made dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries in Pakistan the centerpiece of his strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan. (ANI)

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