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Top Obama Administration Officials Speak Out On Pakistan, Afghanistan

U.S. officials are stressing the threat posed to South Asia by Taliban militants, as they assess the results of the recent U.S.-Afghan-Pakistani summit in Washington. President Barack Obama met at the White House last Wednesday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

The U.S. commander responsible for American military operations in South Asia and the Middle East says an emboldened Taliban poses a true threat to Pakistan.

General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, says there is a growing awareness throughout Pakistan the Taliban militants must be stopped.

During an appearance on the Fox News Sunday television program, he said the nation has been galvanized.

"There is a degree of unanimity that there must be swift and effective action taken against the Taliban in Pakistan," he said.

Pakistani President Zardari says his country's commitment is sound. But he says the Taliban threat goes beyond Pakistan, and should be a worldwide concern.

He spoke in an interview with NBC's Meet the Press recorded after the White House summit.

"I think the world need to understand that this is the new challenge of the 21st century, and this is the new war," said Mr. Zardari.

Afghan President Karzai was also interviewed by Meet the Press following the talks. He said he has more confidence in Mr. Zardari than in the previous Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf.

"We had a very good meeting in Washington," said Mr. Karzai. "I hope this will be taken into further steps, meaning implementation on the ground. I am a lot more confident and a lot more hopeful."

The White House summit was held during an investigation into the deaths of dozens of Afghan civilians who were said to have died in a U.S. bombing raid.

President Karzai has called for the U.S. military to stop the air attacks. But White House National Security Advisor James Jones says further bombing raids are possible.

"Certainly, to tie the hands of our commanders and say we are not going to conduct air strikes would be imprudent," said Jones. "That is part of the combined arms package so we probably would not do that."

Jones spoke on the ABC television program This Week.