Washington: Acknowledging that the war in
Afghanistan is bound to be a "slow, messy and often deadly
business," US` top military official has said partnerships in
the region -- with India and Pakistan -- were crucial for
As US and international forces struggle to wipe out
terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan and along the Af-Pak
border, it is "critical" to expand interest to countries in
South Asia, Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff Admiral
Mike Mullen, said in his address to the 23rd annual award
dinner of the Asia Society on Wednesday.
"Today, my interest in the region is much broader than
it used to be, encompassing not only those nations with
Pacific coastlines but also those in Central and South Asia as
"... I spend a good bit of my time focused on our
operations in Afghanistan and on our relationships with our
partners in India and Pakistan," Mullen said.
"Nothing could be more critical, in my view, than
these relationships right now -- especially as we ramp up our
military presence in Afghanistan and begin to improve security
in Kandahar and across the south," Mullen said according to
the text of his speech released by the Pentagon.
Regretting the loss of lives at a blast at a wedding
celebration in Afghanistan, Mullen said he anticipated more
casualties in the war but at the same time stressed that the
Taliban were feeling the pressure.
"Sadly, there will be more casualties. Of that I am
certain. The Taliban is feeling the pressure already imposed
upon it by the surge, but I have every expectation that they
will continue to resist," he said.
Mullen said his forces would prevent Afghanistan from
ever becoming a "safe haven" for militants again, "but it will
be a slow, messy and often deadly business and it will require
the heavy lifting not only of the United States military, or
in fact anyone`s military, but rather the work and the worry
of all our allies, partners and friends in the region".