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Obama: America Expects Accountability From Pakistan


U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States will give Pakistan the tools it needs to help defeat al-Qaida, but expects accountability in return.

President Obama has made defeating al-Qaida the focus of his new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He says, as he did during his campaign for the White House, that he will take action against terror targets along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

"If we have a high-value target within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan, we are going after them," said President Obama.

But Mr. Obama says no American ground forces will be deployed in Pakistan.

"Our main thrust has to be to help Pakistan defeat these extremists," he said.

The president spoke in an interview with the CBS television program Face the Nation - recorded Friday just hours after the announcement of his new Afghan-Pakistan strategy.

He said there is concern in Washington about a growing notion among the Pakistani people that somehow, this is just America's war.

"And that attitude has led to a steady creep of extremism in Pakistan that is the greatest threat to the stability of the Pakistan government, and ultimately the greatest threat to the Pakistani people," said Mr. Obama.

The White House consulted with Pakistani leaders leading up to the announcement of its new strategy, and the initial response has been positive.

Mr. Obama promised a more regional approach to the fight against terrorists and extremists.

He said he would send more military trainers and U.S. civilian personnel to Afghanistan. He voiced support for an increase in aid to Pakistan, but he made clear he is looking for something in return.

"Our plan does not change recognition of Pakistan as a sovereign government," he said. "We need to work with them and through them to deal with al-Qaida. But we have to hold them much more accountable."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has served in the Obama and Bush administrations. He told the Fox News Sunday program the U.S. objective has narrowed.

"Our long-term objective still would be to see a flourishing democracy in Afghanistan," said Gates. "But I think what we need to focus on, and focus our efforts [on], [is] in making headway in reversing the Taliban's momentum and strengthening the Afghan army and police and really going after al-Qaida."

Gates said al-Qaida is not as centralized and strong as it was before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. But he said it is still providing training and guidance to extremist elements in various countries and remains a serious threat.

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