The presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan have both welcomed the new U.S. strategy proposed by President Barack Obama, for battling violent extremists in the region.
During a news conference Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the plan to include Iran in a regional role is a "very positive thing." He also said a possible plan to reach out to more moderate members of the Taliban is an important and welcome development.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, in an address to parliament, called the new strategy a "positive change" because of its focus on economic development. He welcomed President Obama's call for the U.S. Congress to approve $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan over the next five years.
Mr. Obama has pledged more troops and a greater emphasis on regional diplomacy to defeat al-Qaida militants and their allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
As part of the plan, 4,000 additional U.S troops will be sent to Afghanistan to train Afghan armed forces, on top of the 17,000 new troops to be deployed in the next few months.
In the latest violence in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say American and Afghan forces killed 12 militants during a raid on a compound in southern Helmand province Friday night.
And Afghan officials say police killed two militants during a clash in Zabul province.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.