This is IN THE NEWS in VOA
Obama, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met
Wednesday at the White House. Mister Obama described the day as "extraordinarily
productive." He said the three nations are joined by a common goal to "defeat
al-Qaida and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan."
BARACK OBAMA: "I am pleased
that these two men, elected leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, fully
appreciate the seriousness of the threat that we face and have reaffirmed their
commitment to confronting it."
He also told President Karzai that the
United States will make every effort to avoid harming civilians as it helps the
Afghan government. But on Friday President Karzai, appearing on CNN television,
demanded that American airstrikes end. He said an Afghan delegation had
confirmed that more than one hundred civilians died earlier this week because
of airstrikes in the western province of Farah.
American officials have expressed regret
for the incident. But they say about fifty people were killed, many of them
militants. And they have suggested that Taliban fighters were responsible for killing
some civilians. Mister Karzai disputed that.
The Afghan and Pakistani leaders
brought big delegations to Washington for individual and joint meetings with
American officials. President Karzai said he hopes to reduce years of
tension with Pakistan. President Zardari said he shares a desire to support
democracy and fight terrorism.
Taliban and al-Qaida forces have made recent gains in
Pakistan and Afghanistan.
On Friday American Defense
Secretary Robert Gates completed a visit to Afghanistan. The United States is
preparing for an increase of more than twenty thousand troops there in the
coming months. American officials say it will take at least two years for what
one official called a meaningful measure of progress toward long-term
Pakistan has battled Taliban militants
in its northwest tribal areas for years. But the fighting is now moving closer
to population centers. Government attempts to make peace deals with the
militants have failed to stop the fighting.
The United Nations says hundreds of
thousands of people are being displaced by the latest fighting in Swat and
other parts of North West Frontier province. They join another half million
displaced Pakistanis who have fled their homes since August. Aid groups are
warning of a humanitarian crisis.
In a speech on Thursday, Pakistan's Prime
Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani called on the nation to unite against the Taliban.
Obama administration is seeking four hundred million dollars in immediate
assistance from Congress to help Pakistan fight the insurgency within its
this week, two American senators proposed legislation for three times as much non-military
aid as Pakistan now receives. The measure calls for one and a half billion
dollars a year for five years. The money would be used to build schools, roads
and medical clinics. President Obama supports the measure. The House of
Representatives is considering its own version of the legislation.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA
Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Mario Ritter.