US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday Washington and its allies are determined to prevent extremists from taking control of Afghanistan ever again.
Gates made the remark after a meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad. The two men discussed ways to defeat Taleban insurgents operating on both sides of the border.
The defense secretary said he and General Musharraf also talked about preventing an expected Taleban spring offensive, saying the allies have a chance to deal the Taleban and al-Qaida a strategic setback.
Gates described Pakistan as a "very strong ally" of the United States, even though Washington and Kabul have often voiced frustration over Taleban incursions into Afghanistan from the Pakistani side. Last year, insurgents attacks against US-led NATO and Afghan forces rose dramatically.
But President Musharraf and other Pakistani officials argue they are not to blame for the rising violence in Afghanistan, saying they are doing everything possible to secure the border.
Gates also acknowledged that the United States neglected Afghanistan after Soviet troops withdrew in 1989. He said that encouraged extremists to take control of the country, but added Washington will not make that mistake again.