US will remain on offence in Afghanistan, Obama says
The United States will stay "on the offensive" against terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan and elsewhere, President Barack Obama said Tuesday, offering a glimpse into the administration's review of its policy in the region, dpa reported.
During a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Obama said the US needed a "more comprehensive strategy, a more focused strategy, a more disciplined strategy" to combat terrorism over the coming years.
Obama has already ordered 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, where US and international forces are struggling to push back a growing Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgency.
"It's important for us to stay on the offensive and to dismantle these terrorist organizations wherever they are," Obama said at the White House.
Obama is pushing other countries - including Australia and Europe - to send more troops as well. Rudd said Australia was determined to stop Afghanistan from becoming a "safe haven" for terrorists but he would not commit to sending more forces, an unpopular idea back home.
The White House is expected to announce a full review of its Afghanistan policy before Obama attends a NATO summit in Europe on April 5.
As part of that review, Obama has hinted at engaging more moderate elements of the Taliban. Obama said the US would have to be "much more effective diplomatically" as well as militarily in reducing the threat of terrorism.
Obama has repeatedly called Afghanistan the central front against terrorism. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he regularly criticized former president George W Bush's administration for becoming distracted by the war in Iraq.