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Petraeus: Iraq Gains Fragile; Tough Road in Afghanistan, Pakistan

By VOA News
24 April 2009

The military commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan is warning that security gains in Iraq are fragile and that a tough fight lies ahead in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

General David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, testified before a House of Representatives panel Friday.

He said substantial progress has been made in Iraq, but that al-Qaida in Iraq, although it has been weakened, remains capable of staging attacks. He said foreign fighters are making their way back into the country, noting that four recent suicide bombers were Tunisian.

On Afghanistan, General Petraeus said the top objective is to ensure that transnational extremists do not re-establish terrorist training camps and bases in the country.

He also repeated U.S. concerns about Pakistan, saying it is imperative that Pakistani leaders act against internal extremists groups, which he said are the most important threat to the existence of the country.

On piracy off the coast of Somalia, the general called for maritime shipping companies to do more to fight the pirates, such as having armed guards on ships. He said pirates have become bolder, are demanding higher ransoms and are operating farther off the coast.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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