US national security team to focus on Al Qaeda in Pakistan: NYT

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Washington, Oct.8 (ANI): President Obama's national security team will reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States.

The New York Times quoted officials as saying that Obama met with advisers for three hours to discuss Pakistan at the White House.

The shift in thinking, outlined by senior administration officials on Wednesday, suggests that the president has been presented with an approach that would not require all of the additional troops that his commanding general in the region has requested.

It remains unclear whether everyone in Obama's war cabinet fully accepts this view.

While Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. has argued for months against increasing troops in Afghanistan because Pakistan was the greater priority, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have both warned that the Taliban remain linked to Al Qaeda and would give their fighters havens again if the Taliban regained control of all or large parts of Afghanistan, making it a mistake to think of them as separate problems.

Obama's commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, has argued that success demands a substantial expansion of the American presence, up to 40,000 more troops. Any decision that provides less will expose the president to criticism, especially from Republicans, that his policy is a prescription for failure.

The White House appears to be trying to prepare the ground to counter that by focusing attention on recent successes against Qaeda cells in Pakistan.

The approach described by administration officials on Wednesday amounted to an alternative to the analysis presented by General McChrystal.

The meeting on Wednesday was Obama's third with his full national security team. Another is scheduled for Friday to talk about Afghanistan and then a fifth is planned, possibly for next week.

Obama's spokesman Gibbs said the president was still several weeks away from a decision. (ANI)

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