Obama discusses terrorism with Afghan leader
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
Kabul, July 21, IRNA
US Presidential contender Barack Obama said Sunday that United States needs to focus on Afghanistan in its battle against terrorism.
"The Afghan government needs to do more. But we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism," Obama said.
"I think one of the biggest mistakes we've made strategically after 9/11 was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq," he said.
Obama said troop levels must increase in Afghanistan.
"For at least a year now, I have called for two additional brigades, perhaps three," he said.
"I think it's very important that we unify command more effectively to coordinate our military activities. But military alone is not going to be enough."
Obama met Sunday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a leader the Democratic senator has criticized for not doing enough to rebuild the war-torn nation.
Karzai met with the congressional delegation that includes Obama, and they discussed the achievements of the Afghan government as well as challenges such as terrorism, corruption and illegal drugs.
McCain's senior foreign policy adviser criticized Obama on Sunday for "stubbornly adhering to an unconditional withdrawal that places politics above the advice of our military commanders, the success of our troops and the security of the American people."
Obama traveled to eastern Afghanistan on Saturday to visit American forces under NATO's Regional Command East, the coalition's Combined Joint Task Force said.
Obama is joined by Sen. Charles Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, and Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island.
In a joint statement released Sunday, the three senators expressed confidence that progress would be made in Afghanistan.
Obama arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday and is slated to visit Iraq, although for security reasons, no public schedule for the visit has been released.
"We need a sense of urgency and determination. We need urgency because the threat from the Taliban and al Qaeda is growing and we must act; we need determination because it will take time to prevail.
But with the right strategy and the resources to back it up, we will get the job done," they said in the statement.
Shortly after meeting with Karzai, Obama left Afghanistan to continue a trip that will take him to the Middle East and Europe.
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