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War in Kabul
US to reach out to moderate groups

New York, March 8
Admitting that the nation was not winning in Afghanistan, US President Barack Obama has opened the door for a reconciliation process in which his troops could reach out to moderate elements in the Taliban, much as it did with Sunni militias in Iraq.

In an interview with the New York Times, when asked if the US was winning in Afghanistan - a war Obama effectively adopted as his own last month by ordering an additional 17,000 troops being sent there, he flatly replied, “No.”

Obama pointed to the success in peeling Iraqi insurgents away from the more hard-core elements of the Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia. “There may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and in the Pakistani region,” he said.

In a 35-minute conversation aboard Air Force One on Friday, the Times said, Obama reviewed the challenges to his young administration.

He spoke at length about the struggle with terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere, staking out positions that at times seemed more comparable to those of his predecessor than many of his more liberal supporters would like.

He has signalled that reconciliation could emerge as an important initiative, mirroring the strategy used by Gen David H Petraeus in Iraq.

“If you talk to Gen Petraeus, I think he would argue that part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us because they had been completely alienated by the tactics of the Al-Qaida in Iraq,” Obama said. — PTI

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