Oxford (Mississippi, US), Sept.27 : Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday called for putting more pressure on Pakistan to rein in terror elements in its tribal badlands, while his Republican opponent John McCain pitched for giving that country more aid.
Though the first of three presidential debates held on the University of Mississippi campus here focused primarily on the Wall Street meltdown, both Obama and McCain used the platform to call for a change in foreign policy strategy.
They talked extensively about the prevailing situation in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
While Obama reiterated his opposition to the war in Iraq, McCain defended the latest troop surge, describing it as successful in putting the U.S. on a path to victory "with honor."
Obama called for additional pressure to be put on Pakistan to force the government there to crack down on al Qaeda within its borders. McCain said he would "work with the Pakistani government" and would not call for cutting aid to that country, suggesting that Obama was irresponsible.
Obama charged that Iraq was a distraction from American efforts in Afghanistan and that al-Qaeda was resurgent as a result.
The Washington Post quoted him as saying that more troops were needed in Afghanistan "as quickly as possible" and that he would send "two to three additional brigades" there, once troops were withdrawn from Iraq.