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US General Says Taleban Did Not Launch Spring Offensive

A U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan says the expected Taleban spring offensive has not materialized, partly because of increased operations by U.S. and NATO forces. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.

Brigadier General Joseph Votel says although there are clashes every day, they are mostly small-scale, and he has not seen any evidence that the Taleban is launching any offensive.

"I'm not sure I would classify it as an offensive. We have been more offensive than I think they have, in our posturing and in our ability to dominate areas on the battlefield," he said.

Senior U.S. and NATO commanders have said they planned to initiate their own spring offensive in Afghanistan this year, rather than wait to respond to a Taleban offensive.

Also on Wednesday, the commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia said Pakistan is making unprecedented moves to try to secure its border with Afghanistan.

Admiral William Fallon told a congressional committee Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf moved two brigades from the Indian border to an area just outside a semi-autonomous tribal region along the Afghan border that insurgents are believed to be using as a safe haven.

"He's put these forces in position just outside these tribal areas," he noted. "He has given his commanders authority to work with our commanders down to battalion level. I think this is very significant."

General Votel, the deputy U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan, says the new Pakistani moves are having an impact.

"We have worked very hard over the last couple of months to ensure that our tactical headquarters on the Afghan side of the border and the Pakistan tactical headquarters on their side of the border can talk and communicate freely," he said. "And I will tell you we have seen significant progress in that communication chain across there."

General Votel, who is the deputy commander for operations for both NATO and U.S.-led counter-terrorism forces in eastern Afghanistan, said his troops are expanding their operations from the border area to the interior, where, he said, most of the people live. He said U.S. and other international forces are involved in hundreds of humanitarian and infrastructure projects in an effort to help the Afghan government demonstrate that it can deliver services in that part of the country.