Obama open to US military reaching to moderate Taliban

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Washington, Mar.8 (ANI): US President Barack Obama has declared in an interview that he is open to the idea of the American military reaching out to moderate elements of the Taliban.

Accepting that there is the possibility of NATO troops not winning the war in Afghanistan in the years to come, Obama, in a 35-minute interaction with the New York Times, said "If you talk to General (David) Petraeus (CENTCOM chief), I think he would argue that part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us because they had been completely alienated by the tactics of Al Qaeda in Iraq."

Obama acknowledged that the outreach might not yield the same success.

"The situation in Afghanistan is, if anything, more complex. You have a less governed region, a history of fierce independence among tribes. Those tribes are multiple and sometimes operate at cross purposes, and so figuring all that out is going to be much more of a challenge," he added.

Asked if the United States was winning in Afghanistan, a war he effectively adopted as his own last month by ordering an additional 17,000 troops sent there, Obama replied flatly, "No."

For American military planners, reaching out to the Taliban is fraught with complexities. For one thing, officials would have to figure out which Taliban members might be within the reach of a reconciliation campaign, which by no means would be an easy task.

Obama also left open the option for American operatives to capture terrorism suspects abroad even without the cooperation of a country where they were found.

"There could be situations - and I emphasize 'could be' because we haven't made a determination yet - where, let's say that we have a well-known Al Qaeda operative that doesn't surface very often, appears in a third country with whom we don't have an extradition relationship or would not be willing to prosecute, but we think is a very dangerous person.

I think we still have to think about how do we deal with that kind of scenario," he added. The president went on to say that "we don't torture" and that "we ultimately provide anybody that we're detaining an opportunity through habeas corpus to answer to charges."

Obama also said that he could not assure Americans that the economy would begin growing again this year, but he pledged that he would "get all the pillars in place for recovery this year" and urged Americans not to "stuff money in their mattresses."

"I don't think that people should be fearful about our future. I don't think that people should suddenly mistrust all of our financial institutions," he said.

As he pressed forward with ambitious plans at home to rewrite the tax code, expand health care coverage and curb climate change, Obama dismissed criticism from conservatives that he was driving the country toward socialism. (ANI)

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