Obama targets Pakistan, Afghan stability

Aug. 18, 2010 at 8:26 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama Wednesday established an administration office to promote political stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the White House said.

The president signed an executive order setting up the Pakistan and Afghanistan Support Office, which will be charged with supporting the administration "in strengthening the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, enhancing the capacity of these governments to resist extremists and maintaining an effective U.S. diplomatic presence in both countries," the executive order said.

The office is intended to "enhance civilian control and stable constitutional government in Pakistan" and "promote a more capable, accountable and effective government in Afghanistan that serves the Afghan people and eventually can function, especially regarding internal security, with limited international support, and to stimulate an economy that will provide licit opportunity for the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Pakistan's government is under pressure from the humanitarian disaster caused by monsoon-driven floods that have left at least 1,540 people dead and destroyed more than 500,000 homes. The Federal Flood Commission estimated 8.6 million acres of land -- including 4 million acres of cropland -- have been affected.

Speaking with reporters Thursday, White House spokesman Bill Burton said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other U.S. officials will go to the United Nations Thursday to work on the international response to the disaster in Pakistan.

"We're responding to all the requests that come in from the Pakistani government," Burton said. "We're working with them and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] on the ground to ensure that we're doing all that we can to help them out."

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