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Drone attacks to continue, but no boots on ground: Obama

Drone attacks to continue, but no boots on ground: Obama

Author: Press Trust of India
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: March 30, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/drone-attacks-to-continue-but-no-boots-on-ground-obama/440584/

Warning that the US expects "much more accountability" from Pakistan in rooting out the "steady creep of extremism" there, US President Barack Obama on Sunday said America will go after "high-value" targets after consulting it but not deploy ground troops in hot pursuit.

Without directly referring to the US missile strikes in Pakistan's terrorist-infested tribal belt, Obama said: "If we have a high-value target within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan, we're going after them."

"But our main thrust has to be to help Pakistan defeat these extremists," he told the Face the Nation programme of CBS, which was aired on Sunday but had been recorded on Friday, the same day Obama unveiled a new Afghan-Pak policy.

"But you're talking about going after them. Are you talking about with American boots on the ground, pursuing these people into these so-called safe havens?" CBS host Bob Schieffer asked, to which Obama responded in negative. "No. Our plan does not change the recognition of Pakistan as a sovereign government. We need to work with them and through them to deal with al-Qaeda. But we have to hold them much more accountable," he said.

"The focus over the last seven years I think has been lost. What we want to do is to refocus attention on al-Qaeda," he said in an apparent reference to policy of Bush.

"We have to ensure that neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan can serve as a safe haven for al-Qaeda. And unfortunately over the last several years, what we've seen is essentially al-Qaeda moving several miles from Afghanistan to Pakistan, but effectively still able to project their violence and hateful ideologies out into the world," Obama said. "We are going to root out their networks, their bases. We are going to make sure that they cannot attack US citizens, US soil, US interests, and our allies' interests around the world," he said.

On Friday, unveiling his new Af-Pak policy, Obama had announced his support to a Congressional legislation that would triple non-military aid to Pakistan to USD 1.5 billion a year for the next five years, but cautioned that it will not be a "blank cheque" and Pakistan will have to play its part.

Obama said reports of ISI links to Afghan extremists "aren't new," and lamented that "the average Pakistani" believes that "this is somehow America's war". "And that attitude I think has led to a steady creep of extremism in Pakistan that is the greatest threat to the stability of the Pakistan government, and ultimately the greatest threat to the Pakistani people," he said.


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