Obama Pledges To Pursue War On Terror With Vigor

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged steadfast aid to Afghanistan in talks with its Western-backed leader Sunday and vowed to pursue the war on terror "with vigor" if he is elected, an Afghan official said.

On the second day of an international tour designed to burnish his foreign policy credentials, Obama and other U.S. senators held two hours of talks with President Hamid Karzai at his palace in the Afghan capital.

Obama has chided Karzai for not doing more to build confidence in the Afghan government, whose grip remains weak after the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Mark Stroh said the senators had discussed issues including the painstaking rebuilding of the country's government and economy, the security situation and corruption with Karzai.

The Afghan presidency said Obama's message was positive.

"Sen. Obama conveyed ... that he is committed to supporting Afghanistan and to continue the war against terrorism with vigor," said Humayun Hamidzada, Karzai's spokesman.

Both Democrats and Republicans "are friends of Afghanistan and no matter who wins the U.S. elections, Afghanistan will have a very strong partner in the United States," Hamidzada said.

Obama has made Afghanistan a centerpiece of his proposed strategy for dealing with terrorism threats.

The Illinois senator has said the war in Afghanistan, where Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants are resurgent, deserves more troops and more attention as opposed to the conflict in Iraq.

While officially part of a congressional delegation on a fact-finding tour also expected to take him to Iraq, Obama traveled in Afghanistan amid the security accorded a likely Democratic nominee for president rather than a senator from Illinois.

Media access to Obama was limited, and his itinerary in the war zones was closely guarded. Traveling with him were Sens. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, and Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island.

Obama made no public comment after the meeting with Karzai, which included a traditional lunch of mutton, chicken and rice washed down with a yogurt drink.

Earlier in the day, he praised U.S. troops during breakfast with soldiers at Camp Eggers, a heavily fortified military base in the city.

"To see young people like this who are doing such excellent work, with so much dedication ... it makes you feel good about the country," Obama said.

"I want to make sure that everybody back home understands how much pride people take in their work here and how much sacrifice people are making. It is outstanding," he said in footage filmed by the military and obtained by The Associated Press.

On Saturday, the delegation received briefings from U.S. commanders and a former Afghan warlord who is now the governor of Nangarhar, a province in eastern Afghanistan where militant attacks are spiraling.

Obama's first overseas tour since securing the Democratic nomination - he is scheduled to travel to Europe through next week - could be key to honing his foreign policy strategy with less than four months before the Nov. 4 election. His rival for the presidency, Republican Sen. John McCain, has criticized Obama for not spending more time in the region.

Obama advocates ending the U.S. combat role in Iraq by withdrawing troops at the rate of one to two brigades a month while increasing the military commitment to Afghanistan. Obama has proposed sending two more combat brigades - about 7,000 troops - to Afghanistan. McCain also is advocating sending more forces to the war-battered country.

U.S. military officials say the number of attacks in eastern Afghanistan, where most of the U.S. forces in the country operate, has increased by 40 percent so far this year compared to the same period last year.

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told The Associated Press on Saturday that after intense U.S. assaults there, al-Qaida may be considering shifting focus to its original home base in Afghanistan, where American casualties are recently running higher than in Iraq.

Obama also has expressed weariness with efforts by Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan, to go after militants in its territory. That frustration may strike a chord with Karzai, who has accused Pakistan's intelligence service of supporting the Taliban insurgency - a claim that Pakistan denies.

But Obama also has chided Karzai and his government, saying it had "not gotten out of the bunker" and helped to organize the country or its political and security institutions.

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  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Aug 4, 2008 at 05:17 PM
    Let me see....so it's not war or surges he is actually against, it just has to be his idea..in his mind anyway. I'll bet that crowd over at Code Pink is going absolutely nuts! And what about all the whack jobs on the left that he told he was going to get the troops out of Iraq in 16 months after he gets elected. I guess he forgot to tell them that getting them out of Iraq didn't mean they were coming home, he is just moving them next door. Talk about speaking out of both sides of your mouth! I'll have to say, I love it! I can't stand him, but you know it's sending the left into a tail spin. I wonder if he stands firm on anything other than raising our taxes and NO Drilling?
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Jul 23, 2008 at 10:39 AM
    Get your snake oil get your snake oil, special price from Iraq. This article is very good on why our gas prices and why this snake doesn't support drilling, yes, drilling. As soon as Bush said the "D" word, the prices started dropping for oil. This is real politics. Those that don't want us to drill don't care how much you pay at the pump and Obama is one of them. Reid and Pelosi are also against it. Do not vote democratic this go round until they get a democratic party again, its full of liberal environmentalists, millionaires. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/18/washington/18drill.html
  • by Dave Location: Greenville on Jul 22, 2008 at 04:48 AM
    Obama is a smooth talker and kind of reminds me of Jimmy Carter, and we all know how that story ended...
  • by Obama 08 4 Prez! on Jul 21, 2008 at 07:13 PM
    Oh yes, I've never had a problem to say when I have been hood-winked, bamboozled, runamok, fooled, swindled, lied to. Obama has flip flopped. He has lost so many voters who still won't vote for McCain. This will truly be a unpredictable election.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Jul 21, 2008 at 07:16 AM
    This is the change you can believe in. What did you think he was going to do? Flip Flop? Yes, he is a liberal to the core that knows he has to go to the middle of the road to get elected. David, while I agree with what you are saying, a write in is just another vote for both. Do not vote democrat. If you do with a house and senate democrat....taxes are going up and they will get away with a liberal agenda. They do not want to drill for oil, think solar and wind will take over...yes, in about 10 years, but what about now. Their solution, buy a bike. This solution means about $9 a gallon of gas. That is correct, if they go after oil companies like Obama says, supply will go elsewhere like Asia. Get in the gas lines....even or odd....
  • by David Location: Manteo on Jul 20, 2008 at 08:33 PM
    I agree with Mike of Edenton. All of this is just to get votes. He is just like the rest of them, promises made, promises broken. I for one have my choice for our next president and trust me, it is not Obama or McCain. They are only blowing smoke up our butts just long enough to get our votes. Thank God for write-ins or this country is doomed for another major downfall with our next president. I just believe there are actually people out there who are believing this garbage coming out of these candidates mouths without question. It's a crying shame that we are most likely going to get stuck with one of these two and this country is going to go down further than Bush has driven it already! GO BILL BALSAMICO!!!
  • by Steve Location: Kinston on Jul 20, 2008 at 03:48 PM
    I would vote for Obama in a heartbeat if I could believe what he is saying all of a sudden. But a liberal approval rating of 100 per cent by a liberal think tank on liberal issues has me almost paranoid. His voting record contradicts his election promises to the people. Probably more of the same old election year rhetoric by the liberal politicians.
  • by Mike Location: Edenton on Jul 20, 2008 at 01:25 PM
    A skunk can paint his stripes, but it still smells like a skunk. Obama is engaging in camoflage to paint his Liberal stripes, trying to look more moderate. It won't work on those who have any common sense.
  • by Mike Location: Edenton on Jul 20, 2008 at 01:22 PM
    Obama is only blowing smoke to gain political points. Unless people are idiots they only need to review his voting record as to what he is REALLY all about. So many people are putting the "fool" into the word "fooled".

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