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UN Chief Welcomes President Obama's 'Fresh Thinking' on Afghanistan

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama's new focus and "fresh thinking" on Afghanistan.

During a press conference Thursday, Mr. Ban said he told President Obama that any military buildup in Afghanistan must be accompanied by a "political surge."  

The United Nations is hosting a major international conference on the future of Afghanistan on March 31 in the Netherlands.  Top U.S., Afghan and Pakistani officials will attend along with other players in the region, including NATO members and international donor organizations.

Mr. Ban said Afghanistan is at a crossroads with rising militant violence and upcoming elections in August.

The Obama administration is conducting a thorough review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.  The president has already approved the deployment of an additional 17,000 troops to boost security in southern Afghanistan, a stronghold of the Taliban insurgency.

Vice President Joe Biden told NATO allies earlier this week the United States is seeking out new ideas and cooperation in fighting what he described as the common threat of terrorism in the region.

Top military and U.S. officials have admitted that U.S. and NATO troops are not winning the war against a range of militant groups and a resurgent Taliban movement in Afghanistan. 

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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