U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to
Pakistan as part of a new strategy for combating militants along the
In an interview broadcast on U.S. television (CBS) Sunday, Mr. Obama said Pakistan is a sovereign nation and the United States must work with Islamabad to deal with al-Qaida.
Mr. Obama said that under the strategy he announced Friday, U.S. forces
will pursue high-value terrorist targets in Pakistan "after consulting"
with the Pakistani government.
The president said he will give Pakistan the tools to "root out"
militant safe havens near the Afghan border. But, he said Islamabad
must be held "more accountable" for achieving results.
Mr. Obama's strategy also includes sending 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to fight a growing Taliban-led insurgency.
The reinforcements are in addition to 17,000 U.S. troops due to be sent to Afghanistan in the coming months.
President Obama acknowledged that increasing troop levels alone may not
improve Afghanistan's situation, saying the deployment of more forces
may have "diminishing returns." He said he will ask Congress to boost
U.S. diplomatic and development efforts in the country.
Mr. Obama also said he will not make an "open-ended commitment of
infinite resources" to fighting militants in the region. His new
strategy does not include a timeline for the departure of U.S. forces.
In a separate interview on U.S. television (Fox News),
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. must focus on reversing
the Taliban's momentum and strengthening the Afghan army and police. He
said a flourishing democracy in Afghanistan remains a long-term goal.
Militants ambushed a police convoy in western Afghanistan Sunday, killing four officers and wounding a senior official from (the Qadis district of) Badghis province.
In other developments, a former high-ranking Afghan Taliban commander
told the Reuters news agency that most Taliban fighters are willing to
lay down their arms under certain conditions.
Mullah Abdul Salam says 95 percent of Taliban insurgents would
reconcile with the Afghan government if it could ensure their security.
But, he says the Afghan government is not yet strong enough to provide
that security and many insurgents fear being killed for defecting.
Mullah Abdul Salam switched allegiance to the Afghan government in December 2007.