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Updated: December 12, 2009 12:04 IST

Pak must cooperate fully with U.S. to wipe out al-Qaeda: Obama

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Nobel Peace prize winner and U.S. President Barack Obama board Air Force One at Gardermoen Airport outside Oslo on Friday. Photo: AP
Nobel Peace prize winner and U.S. President Barack Obama board Air Force One at Gardermoen Airport outside Oslo on Friday. Photo: AP

US President Barack Obama has said Pakistan must cooperate more fully with the United States to go after and wipe out Al-Qaeda.

Portraying the tribal territories that straddle between Afghanistan and Pakistan as the “epicentre of the violent extremism directed against the West... and the United States”, Mr. Obama said in an interview to CBS to be broadcast on Sunday, excerpts of which were released on Sunday.

“Ultimately, in order for us to eradicate the problem, to really go after al Qaeda ... we are going to need more cooperation from Pakistan. There is no doubt about that,” the US President said in crucial remarks after Washington announced inducting 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan to wipe out groups like Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

Mr. Obama’s comments came as reports emerged that a senior Al-Qaida operations planner was killed in an American missile strike this week in western Pakistan.

The operative identified as Saleh al-Somali was responsible for the terror group’s operations outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, reaching into activities in Africa.

US counter-terrorism officials said al-Somali was believed to have been involved in plotting attacks against the United States and Europe. He was killed by an unmanned drone missile Tuesday.

The raid was part of a growing bombing campaign by the United States against Al-Qaeda and Taliban figures in tribal areas of Pakistan.

New York Times quoting top US officials recently said that Mr. Obama had cleared CIA’s proposals to expand drone attacks in Pakistan to cover Baluchistan province where American officials believe Afghan-Taliban chief Mullah Omar is hiding along with his top shura.

Islamabad is under increasing Western pressure to not only target Taliban groups attacking Pakistan, but also Al-Qaeda-linked fighters and the militants who cross over the border and target NATO-led troops in Afghanistan.

Washington and London have also pressed Pakistan to capture Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden -- believed to be in the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border area -- but the authorities deny he is on their soil.

Defending his setting a deadline to begin withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan, the US President said he intended this to send a clear message that American involvement wasn’t open-ended.

“In the absence of a deadline, the message we are sending to the Afghans is, ‘It’s business as usual. This is an open-ended commitment,’” Mr. Obama said adding “That’s not what the American people signed up for when they went into Afghanistan in 2001.”

“There are, I think, elements in Afghanistan who would be perfectly satisfied to make Afghanistan a permanent protectorate of the United States, the US President said.

Mr. Obama said that would put the full burden on the US for providing Afghanistan’s security.

The US public supported waging the war “to go after Al-Qaeda,” he said.

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