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Friday, May 8, 2009

Obama asks Pakistan to deny ‘space’ to Al-Qaeda, Taliban

Washington: After some tough talking, United States President Barack Obama on Thursday asked Pakistan to deny Al-Qaeda and Taliban the “space” enjoyed by them and promised to give military and civilian aid to the country “to get the job done.”

To achieve the common goal to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” the Al-Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan, “we must deny them the space to threaten Pakistani, Afghan or American people,” Mr. Obama said after his meeting with his Pakistani and Afghan counterparts Asif Ali Zardari and Hamid Karzai respectively at the White House.

“I have long said that we cannot meet these challenges in isolation, nor delay the action, nor deny the resources necessary to get the job done. And, that’s why we have a comprehensive [Af-Pak] strategy for the region with civilian and military components... And for the first time, this strategy will be matched by the resources that it demands.”

Mr. Obama recently said the civilian government in Pakistan was “very fragile” and lacked the capacity to deliver basic services.

After the trilateral summit on Thursday, Mr. Obama said he was “pleased” that Mr. Zardari and Mr. Karzai fully appreciated the seriousness of the threat and that they reaffirmed their commitment to confronting it.

“And I’m pleased that we have advanced unprecedented cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan on a bilateral basis – and among Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States – which will benefit all of our people,” he told reporters.

The visiting Presidents also met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said after the talks that “a lot of lip service” was paid in the past that did not translate into better lives, more safety and security and economic development for the people of Pakistan.

Against the backdrop of the U.S. air raids against insurgents in Afghanistan’s Herat province that killed 100 civilians, Mr. Obama pledged to make “every effort” to avoid casualties among innocent people.

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