Obama's Afghanistan strategy marks shift

Nov. 11, 2008 at 7:37 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Military advisers to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama favor taking a regional approach to the war in Afghanistan, including engaging Iran, sources say.

Obama's advisers, in a sharp break with the policies of President George Bush, advocate dropping ideological barriers to talking to Iran about Afghanistan, which neither country wants to see controlled by the Sunni Arab extremists of the Taliban, unnamed transition team officials told The Washington Post.

And in an idea advocated by many of the United States' NATO allies, Obama's military aides also reportedly look favorably on opening a dialogue with "reconcilable" elements of the Taliban.

The Post's sources also indicated Obama is planning on increasing troop levels in Afghanistan even as he puts a renewed emphasis on targeting al-Qaida both there and in the neighboring tribal areas of Pakistan.

The newspaper said Obama's Afghanistan approach would mark a sharp contrast to the Bush administration by dropping its "unrealistic commitment" of building a modern democracy around the President Hamid Karzai and focus instead on maintaining stability.

NATO allies also seem more likely to be willing to put troops into combat under an Obama administration, sources told the Post.

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