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US backs Afghan, Pakistani leaders at Washington summit

The World Today - Thursday, 7 May , 2009 12:22:00

Reporter: Kim Landers

PETER CAVE: The US President Barack Obama says his Afghan and Pakistani counterparts are united in
their goal of defeating Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their allies. The United States has been seeking
a more aggressive commitment from both to fight extremism.

In exchange the US is pledging unwavering support for the governments of both Afghanistan and

Washington correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: It's been a picture of unity - US President Barack Obama flanked by Afghanistan's
President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari as they faced the media at the
White House.

BARACK OBAMA: We meet today as three sovereign nations joined by a common goal to disrupt,
dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to prevent
their ability to operate in either country in the future.

KIM LANDERS: Barack Obama invited the Afghan and Pakistani leaders to a summit in the hope of
easing years of mistrust between the neighbours, all in the name of defeating Al Qaeda and the

BARACK OBAMA: Along the border where insurgents often move freely we must work together with a
renewed sense of partnership to share intelligence and to coordinate our efforts to isolate, target
and take out our common enemy.

KIM LANDERS: But the deaths of dozens of Afghans in a reported US airstrike has cast a pall over
the high-stakes summit.

BARACK OBAMA: I also made it clear that the United States will work with our Afghan and
international partners to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties as we help the Afghan
Government combat our common enemy.

KIM LANDERS: That common enemy is Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their allies. Barack Obama says the
United States had made a lasting commitment to this goal and he's also pledged not to wavier in his
support for the democratically elected governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

BARACK OBAMA: The United States has a stake in the future of these two countries. We have learned
time and again that our security is shared. It is a lesson that we learned most painfully on 9/11
and it is a lesson that we will not forget.

So we are here today in the midst of a great challenge but no matter what happens we will not be
deterred. The aspirations of all our people for security, for opportunity and for justice are far
more powerful than any enemy.

KIM LANDERS: Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai has sounded a strong note of support for the common fight.

HAMID KARZAI: I would request our brothers and sisters in Pakistan to count on us in the best
possible manner, that Afghanistan will go along in order to eventually provide a life of peace and
prosperity to both countries.

KIM LANDERS: Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari says Pakistan is bearing a "huge burden" in fighting both
the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

ASIF ALI ZARDARI: Our threat is common and our responsibilities should be shared. I am here to
assure you that we shall share this burden with you all for no matter how long it takes and what it
takes, democracies will deliver.

KIM LANDERS: It's been just over a month since President Obama announced he's sending 21,000 more
troops to Afghanistan.

Richard Haass is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He says there's a tension
between what needs to be done militarily and what needs to be done to win the hearts and minds of
the Afghan and Pakistani people.

RICHARD HAASS: And the problem is neither government is able to go after the terrorists, be it Al
Qaeda or the Taliban themselves so many in cases we have to do it. But again it's a real dilemma
for the Obama administration because at times the more you do militarily, no matter how much you
accomplish on the ground you tend to work against yourself politically.

KIM LANDERS: President Barack Obama has declared he's got the commitments he wanted from the
leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight extremists more aggressively. He says both men
appreciate the seriousness of the threats that all three countries face and they've reaffirmed
their commitment to confronting it.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for 'The World Today'.