US insists Pak keeps anti-terror pledges

US President`s comments underscored festering tensions between Washington and Islamabad.

Washington: President Barack Obama on Wednesday vowed the United States will "insist" Pakistan fulfil its promises to counter militant sanctuaries on its soil.

"We will work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keep its commitments," Obama said in a televised speech on troop withdrawal plans for the war in Afghanistan.

Obama`s comments underscored festering tensions between Washington and Islamabad in the wake of a unilateral US raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan last month.

In blunt language, Obama made clear he was ready to order more assaults against any safe-havens harbouring those who aimed to kill Americans.

"For there should be no doubt that so long as I am President, the United States will never tolerate a safe-haven for those who aim to kill us: they cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve," he said.

Referring to Pakistan, Obama said "no country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists."

The US President said his government would "continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation in securing a more peaceful future for this war-torn region."

Before his speech, Obama telephoned his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday, officials in Islamabad said.

"The two leaders agreed to take appropriate steps to repair the ties between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit," the Pakistani presidency said in a statement.

"President Obama appreciated Pakistan`s efforts in the fight against militancy," the statement said.

"President Zardari said that the fight against extremism was Pakistan`s own and it had to fight it to the finish in its own national interest".

The leaders also "agreed to have regular contacts and interaction at appropriate levels for the resolution of issues".

The bin Laden raid humiliated the Pakistani military and invited allegations of incompetence and complicity, while Washington has increasingly demanded that Islamabad take decisive action against terror networks in the tribal badlands on the border with Afghanistan.

Apart from the operation by US special forces that killed bin Laden, Obama has overseen a major CIA drone bombing campaign against al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan, targeting leaders with unmanned aircraft.

Bureau Report

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