Washington: Ahead of his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif here next week, US President Barack Obama today called for ending terrorist sanctuaries in the region and indicated that he would push the Pakistani leader on peace talks with the Taliban.
"Sanctuaries for the Taliban and other terrorists must end," Obama said.
Though he did not mention Pakistan while speaking about terrorists "safe havens" during his speech at the White House, Afghan and US officials have often said in the past a few months that terrorist sanctuaries continue to exist.
Obama also indicated that in his meeting with Sharif next week, he would push Pakistan on peace talks with the Taliban, which has failed to take-off despite several attempts.
"Next week, I'll host Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan and I will continue to urge all parties in the region to press the Taliban to return to peace talks and to do their part in pursuit of the peace that Afghans deserve," Obama said as he announced his decision to continue to maintain 5,500 American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016.
Obama said the pressure from Pakistan has resulted in more al Qaeda militants coming into Afghanistan, and there has been the emergence of ISIS presence in the war-torn country.
All this, he said, has made the situation in Afghanistan "fragile and dangerous."
Reiterating his call for a political solution, Obama said that it should be clear to the Taliban and all who oppose Afghanistan's progress, that "the only real way to achieve the full drawdown of US and foreign troops from Afghanistan" is through a political settlement with the Afghan government.
"Likewise sanctuaries for the Taliban and other terrorists must end," Obama said.