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U.S.: Pakistani-Afghan review intense

March 27, 2009 at 6:12 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, March 27 (UPI) -- The 60-day review of the U.S. Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy was an aggressive effort to ensure all views were heard and considered, officials said Friday.

The review lead to recommendations for the region that U.S. President Barack Obama outlined Friday, including committing an additional 4,000 troops and more civilian personnel to Afghanistan, and $1.5 billion per year for five years in non-military aid to Pakistan.

"Thus far, our policy sees Afghanistan and Pakistan as two countries, but one theater of operations for our diplomacy, and one challenge for our overall policy," said Michelle Flournoy, with the Defense Department and a member of the policy review team.

The strategy's goal is to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida, and to ensure that their safe havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot threaten the United States anymore," she said.

Bruce Riedel, another member of the strategy review team, said the number of safe havens would be reduced by a combination of "aggressive military operations on the Afghan side" and working with the Pakistani government.

Counter-terrorism is a central part of the operations, Flournoy said, adding, "I certainly believe we are going to be increasing our intelligence focus in this theater, and as opportunities arise that may increase the pace of operations, as well."

Richard Holbrooke, Obama's representative to the region, said the exit strategy was simple.

"We can leave as the Afghans (begin to) deal with their own security problems," Holbrooke said, adding that the strategy includes governance and the reduction of corruption and "above all ... it also requires dealing with western Pakistan."

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