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Focus on destroying safe havens in Pakistan: US

By Lalit K Jha
October 06, 2009 04:05 IST
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Noting that it would be difficult to win the war in Afghanistan without destroying "safe haven" of Taliban militants inside neighbouring Pakistan, the United States said on Monday that it would now focus on how to tackle the situation. "Obviously, this was an area that's just along the border. If there isn't a safe haven in Pakistan, it's harder for any attacks to come. And I think that's certainly part of the focus," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The Obama Administration also ruled out leaving Afghanistan at this point of time with Gibbs saying, "such an option is neither being discussed, nor is on the table". Recently US President Barack Obama held a series of meeting with his key defense, security and intelligence aides to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Obama met General Stanley McChrystal, the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Commander in Afghanistan, in Copenhagen over the weekend. This week, he is scheduled to brief a select group of US lawmakers on the current situation in Afghanistan and hold another two round of meetings with key policy advisors.

"The President and the team are focused on ensuring that we hear from all sides, both in dealing with Afghanistan and in Pakistan, understanding that part of what we can do to improve the security situation along the region in Afghanistan where an attack like that happened was to deal with safe haven areas in Pakistan," Gibbs said. 

The White House spokesman said the discussions will not limit to military side but also some of the political and economic aspects of the situation in both the countries. It will take next several weeks for Obama administration to come out with its new Af-Pak policy, Gibbs said.   

"I think the President believes strongly that we have a process that is working, that we ought to take the time to get this right. As you heard Secretary (of Defense, Robert) Gates say more than a week ago, it has been since sometime in the
mid-'80s since we actually had a strategy to deal with a country called Afghanistan," he said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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