Mar 6, 2009

Pakistan borders nerve centre of extremism: Hillary Clinton

'We hope that this meeting could provide an opportunity to reach a common set of principles, perhaps embodied in a chairman's statement on a common way forward,' Clinton told NATO foreign ministers, without saying where it would take place.
Aside from Afghanistan and Pakistan, Clinton also proposed inviting NATO allies and other nations contributing forces to the operation in Afghanistan as well as major donors and international organizations.
Pakistani and Afghan foreign ministers met in Washington last week when the conference idea was discussed.
Clinton repeated at the NATO meeting in Brussels a US appeal for NATO members to provide more troops to fight al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Afghanistan, adding to the additional 17,000 US forces that Washington offered last month.
'We must add resources to address the serious situation on the ground right now,' Clinton said.
In addition, there needed to be an increase in development aid and more help to train and build the Afghan army and police.
The administration of US President Barack Obama is doing a full review of its policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan and has appointed a special representative, Richard Holbrooke, to oversee its new strategy.US officials say the review is expected to be completed in the coming weeks, in time for the conference.
Indicating the new US approach, Clinton said Afghanistan and Pakistan must be seen as a single strategic concern.
'We must recognize that one tiny, remote corner of the world — the borders of Pakistan — is the nerve center for extremists who planned 9/11; the bombings in Madrid and London, the assassination of (former Pakistani Prime Minister) Benazir Bhutto and the recent carnage in Mumbai,' she said.
'They are planning similar attacks right now,' she added.
The top US diplomat said to address the threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan there needed to be a regional approach and better coordination within the US government and NATO.
She also appealed for a united front in support of the Afghan presidential election and attempts to ensure a safe and fair poll.
Italy has plans for a separate international meeting on Afghanistan in June.

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