News / USA

Obama Meets with Advisers on Afghanistan, Pakistan

President Barack Obama met on Thursday with his national security team to discuss Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The 7th such regular meeting on the subject came as the government pressed ahead with an investigation into the leak of tens of thousands of classified documents about the war in Afghanistan.

Taking part in the meeting in the White House Situation Room, either in person or by video link, were some 22 civilian and military officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Vice President Joe Biden and CIA Director Leon Panetta.

President Obama's national security adviser, General James Jones, was there.  Participating from afar were the new U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, and the U.S. ambassadors to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The AF-PAK meeting, as it is called, came near the end of a difficult week in which President Obama and others in his administration assessed potential damage from the disclosure of tens of thousands of secret war documents by the WikiLeaks web site.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs indicated to reporters at the White House news briefing that the president and his advisers did not allow the leaks issue to dominate the meeting.

"The WikiLeaks [matter] was not something that took up any real measurable amount of time in today's meeting," said Robert Gibbs. "I think each of the principles, including the president has commented on the operational security risks that 90,000 plus secret documents, classified documents, being put on the Internet poses to our troops, poses to those who are cooperating with our efforts to make Afghanistan and Pakistan more secure."

Defense Secretary Gates told reporters at the Pentagon that the FBI will assist in the criminal investigation of the leak.  The documents, he said, do not fundamentally call into question the efficacy of U.S. strategy or prospects for success, but could have potentially severe and dangerous effects for U.S. troops, allies and Afghan partners.

White House spokesman Gibbs said the regular Afghanistan-Pakistan session discussed the recent strategic dialogue Secretary of State Clinton held in Pakistan, and U.S. efforts to support Pakistani military actions against violent extremists in Pakistan.

The meeting also focused on what the Obama administration calls the success of the recent Kabul conference and steps to strengthen governance and pursue the re-integration of Taliban forces.

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