India welcomes new US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

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New Delhi, Mar.30 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon on Monday welcomed the new US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, as announced by President Barack Obama last week.

In a statement issued here today on behalf of the Indian Government, Menon said: "We welcome the very clear expression of will to carry through the struggle against extremism in Afghanistan and its roots in Pakistan contained in the new comprehensive US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan."

"India has a direct interest in the success of this international effort. India is ready to play a constructive role as a responsible power in defeating extremism of all kinds," he added.bama unveiled the new war strategy on Friday, its key goal being to crush al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan and in Pakistan who he said were plotting new attacks on the United States.

He warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the United States from secret havens in Pakistan, and therefore, there was a need to set new benchmarks to tackle their brand of terrorism head on.

"I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to prevent their return to either country in the future," Obama said. "That's the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just."

Obama's new strategy is built on an ambitious goal of boosting the Afghan army from 80,000 to 134,000 troops by 2011 - and greatly increasing training by U.S. troops accompanying them - so the Afghan military can defeat Taliban insurgents and take control of the war.

That, he said, is "how we will ultimately be able to bring our troops home."

There is no timetable for withdrawal, and the White House said it has no estimate on how many billions of dollars its plan will cost.

The essence of Obama's strategy is to set clear goals for a war gone awry, to get the American people behind them, to provide more resources and to make a better case for international support. He is heading to a NATO meeting in France and Germany next week and expects allies to pledge more help.

Obama tied Afghanistan and Pakistan together as one conflict, pledging regular three-way diplomacy with both countries and intensive outreach to the world for help in the region. He pledged to send 4,000 troops to train the Afghan army and police force.

And showing the frustration of many in American government, Obama spoke bluntly about the leadership of the government it is trying to help.

He said Pakistan must no longer expect a "blank check" for its U.S. aid and must be willing to take on extremists within its borders. He suggested that the U.S. would strike terrorist targets in Pakistan if the country did not do so itself, saying he will insist that action be taken "one way or another."

Obama's review capped two months of extensive consultations among his team, Capitol Hill and foreign governments. (ANI)

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