Washington: US President Barack Obama had
extensive discussion with the Indian leaders on the challenges
being faced in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a senior American
official has said as the White House announced to launch the
review of the Af-Pak policy.
Last December, Obama had announced surge of thousands of
additional troops to Afghanistan and had set July 2011 as the
start of the draw-down of troops from there.
"The fundamental purpose of the annual review is to
assess progress along trend lines," the senior Administration
"Of course the President`s visit to your country (India)
just over the course of this last week has been an important
dimension of the review because he, of course, had extensive
opportunities to discuss with your national leaders the
regional context of the Afghanistan-Pakistan challenge," the
official said in response to a question from a news agency.
"We know that there were very fruitful conversations with
your national leaders in that context."
Obama had detailed meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh during his three-day stay in India that took him to
Mumbai and New Delhi.
Besides the Prime Minister and official delegation-level
talks, Obama also met President Pratibha Patil, Congress
leader Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj.
"So in a sense President trip (to India) itself will be
an important input to the review process," the official said.
"We are aiming for sort of the middle to late December
period to report out officially to the President. And then
sometime after that there`ll be a public discussion of the
findings," he said.
Continued presence of terrorist safe haven is one of the
fundamental underlying question for the review, he said,
adding that this was also reflected in the quarterly Af-Pak
report that the White House sent to the Congress in October.
"We do not dispute that there are still safe havens in
Pakistan which are fundamentally part of the equation for our
campaign in Afghanistan," the official said.
"Getting at those safe havens is fundamental to our
approach. So this will be the key focus items inside the
annual review," the official told reporters.
"One of the important trends of the campaign is that we
are seeing some indicators that the Taliban may be under
pressure in ways that it has not been under pressure before."
An area of examination would be identifying which
programs or which dimensions of the campaign are putting the
Taliban under pressure, he said, adding "and (also) then what
are the political impacts of the military campaign that has
put the Taliban under that pressure".