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Obama, Karzai, Zardari Meet

President Barack Obama recently met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at the White House.

The United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, said President Obama, “share a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their ability to operate in either country in the future.”

In an effort to confront this threat, the United States, Pakistan, and Afghanistan must share intelligence, and coordinate efforts to isolate, target, and take out members of al-Qaida and the Taliban. Clearly, more troops are needed in the fight against the insurgents in Afghanistan. That’s why the U.S. is deploying twenty-one thousand troops there and increasing efforts to train Afghan security forces.

At the same time, said President Obama, this extremist threat must be countered with the promise of economic opportunity. In an effort to spark development, the U.S. is looking to negotiate transit-trade agreements to open the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders to more commerce.

Within Afghanistan, said President Obama, “we must help grow the economy, while developing alternatives to the drug trade. ... We must support free and open national elections later this fall, while helping to protect the hard-earned rights of all Afghans. And we must support the capacity of local governments to stand up to corruption that blocks progress.”

The Pakistani government needs support for its democratic institutions and help confronting the Taliban insurgents. “We must do more than stand against those who destroy Pakistan,” said President Obama. “We must stand with those who want to build Pakistan.” That means supporting the construction of schools, roads, and hospitals.

“The road ahead,” said President Obama, “will be difficult. There will be more violence, and there will be setbacks. But let me be clear: The United States has made a lasting commitment to defeat al-Qaida, but also to support the democratically elected sovereign governments of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.”