Karzai, Zardari praise the new US strategy
Afghan soldier kills 2 troops, self
KABUL - Afghanistan and Pakistan praised the new strategy President Obama unveiled yesterday, saying his emphasis on civilian aid to their countries would be an effective way to deal with the growing violence from Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.
Meanwhile, an Afghan soldier shot and killed two coalition troops yesterday in northern Afghanistan before killing himself, said Colonel Greg Julian, a US military spokesman. One of the international troops died immediately, and the other succumbed to wounds, said a joint US-Afghan military statement.
US-led forces toppled the Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2001, but many members of the militant group fled to Pakistan, where they have been staging cross-border attacks alongside Al Qaeda against Afghan and international troops. The Obama administration hopes its new strategy will improve security and bolster the Afghan government.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Obama's plan announced Friday to strengthen Afghanistan's security forces by providing an additional 4,000 troops to train the country's army and police would benefit his country and the region.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari praised Obama's plan to give his country $1.5 billion in civilian aid annually to improve people's lives and counter the influence of Islamic militants, said the state news agency.
Obama said yesterday that the United States would also send hundreds of additional civilians to Afghanistan, with the overarching goal "to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future."
Karzai said the new strategy "will bring Afghanistan and the international community closer to success."
Other Afghan officials praised the new US strategy, especially Obama's focus on militant sanctuaries in Pakistan. Obama called the mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan "the most dangerous place in the world."
The United States and Afghanistan have repeatedly called on Pakistan to crack down on militants on its territory. The Pakistani government has pledged to do so, but many Afghan and Western officials suspect officers within the country's spy agency of supporting the Taliban, which Pakistan helped rise to power in Afghanistan in the 1990s.
"We particularly welcome the recognition that the problem in Afghanistan has strong regional dynamics and there has to be a regional solution," Afghan presidential spokesman Humayun Hamidzada said, referring to the new US strategy. "We also welcome the recognition that the Al Qaeda threat is emanating from Pakistan."
Hamidzada also praised Obama's focus on increasing civilian aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan. "We appreciate the focus on development assistance for the Afghan and Pakistani people while not losing sight of the fight against terrorism," Hamidzada told the Associated Press.