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Obama Calls Meetings with Pakistani, Afghan Counterparts 'Extraordinarily Productive'

By VOA News
06 May 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama says his meetings with the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan were "extraordinarily productive," and that the United States has made a lasting commitment to support their democratically elected governments.

Mr. Obama spoke at the White House Wednesday after talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. He said he is pleased at what he called the "unprecedented cooperation" between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The U.S. president said his administration will make every effort to avoid civilian casualties in the war against terror in Afghanistan. He also said both Mr. Karzai and Mr. Zardari fully appreciate the seriousness of the threats that all three countries face from extremists, and are committed to confronting it.

Earlier in the day, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed regret at the loss of civilian life in Afghanistan. Clinton said the U.S. and Afghan governments will investigate the incidents earlier this week in Farah Province, where some local officials are claiming that more than 100 civilians were killed in U.S. air strikes.

She met earlier Wednesday with Mr. Zardari and Mr. Karzai and said the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan face a common enemy in extremists.

Mr. Karzai said he hopes the U.S. and Afghanistan can work together to eventually eliminate the chance of civilian casualties. He said his young democracy needs attention and nurturing, and that Pakistan, Afghanistan, the U.S. and all countries of the world are victims of terrorism.

At the State Department, at the opening of the two days of high-level talks, Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding for the conclusion of a border trade and transit agreement by the end of this year. That accord has been under discussion for more than 40 years.

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