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Obama, Advisers To Discuss Afghanistan, Pakistan

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Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama and his security advisers hold their monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan on Wednesday.  The closed-door session is likely to include discussions of relations with Pakistan and negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The meeting takes place as Pakistani officials arrive in Washington for high-level talks led by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

The United States is expected to offer as much as $2 billion over five years to help Pakistan fight insurgents along its border with Afghanistan.

The offer is seen as part of an effort to ease tension over U.S. military strikes recently on the Pakistan side of the border, and U.S. impatience with Pakistan's hesitance to fight insurgents.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday the situation has been improving.

"We see an unprecedented level of cooperation from the Pakistanis in taking on insurgents, because we understand unlike in the past, it is now in our mutual well-being to do so," said Gibbs.

However, Gibbs says Obama administration officials will emphasize the need for greater Pakistani cooperation.

"Throughout this process and throughout these meetings this week, there will be opportunities for us to detail for the Pakistanis what more must be done," he said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in San Francisco last Friday, said increased cooperation with Pakistan is part of the administration's plan to work more effectively against the insurgency.

"As part of the review that the president ordered back in January '09, we have engaged much more intensely with the Pakistani leadership, both civilian government and the military leadership," said Hillary Clinton.

The president and his advisers are also likely to discuss U.S. support for the Afghan government's negotiations with Taliban insurgents.  

The U.S. is pursuing a two-prong approach in Afghanistan: encouraging those talks while intensifying its military campaign against the insurgents.

Secretary Clinton says Afghanistan is a very difficult environment, but success is not impossible.

"But it is not a hopeless one, and it is not a failing environment," she said. "It is one that has a lot of challenges that are inherent that have to be dealt with."

The Obama administration has stressed that under any agreement with the Taliban, the insurgents must give up violence, renounce al-Qaida and abide by the Afghan constitution and laws.  

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