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US Demands More Progress by Pakistan in Afghan War

President Obama on Thursday discusses the Afghanistan and Pakistan review. He was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Joint Chiefs vice chairman, Marine General James Cartwright.

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Correction attached

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

This week, President Obama released a progress report on the Afghan war, now in its tenth year. The five-page summary of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Annual Review says "there are notable operational gains."

For example, the president welcomed major Pakistani offensives in the tribal areas. But he said progress has not come fast enough.

BARACK OBAMA: "So we will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with."

Interior Minister Rehman Malik dismissed criticism of his country.

REHMAN MALIK: "If you see the statistics in terms of the casualties and injuries, it is Pakistan which has suffered the most in the world. We have done a lot. We are suffering in terms of our economy and obviously it is affecting our common man in the country."

Most suspected American missile strikes in Pakistan have taken place in North Waziristan. The United States believes the Haqqani network of the Afghan Taliban has established bases there.

The American ambassador in Islamabad said Friday that the United States has been talking closely with Pakistan about launching an offensive in North Waziristan. But Ambassador Cameron Munter says Pakistani forces are stretched too thin to launch it now.

President Obama said the review shows that the United States and its partners are "on track" to reach their goals. He said the goal is not to defeat every single threat to Afghan security.

BARACK OBAMA: "We are focused on disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and preventing its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future."

The Taliban said the review was propaganda designed to create "baseless hope."

The United States currently has about one hundred thousand troops in Afghanistan. The plan is for American troops to begin leaving in July and for Afghans to control their own security by the end of twenty-fourteen.

Mr. Obama said for "security gains to be sustained over time, there is an urgent need for political and economic progress in Afghanistan."

A new survey by the Washington Post and ABC News found that sixty percent of Americans now think the war is not worth fighting.

On Monday, the president lost his special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, appointed in January of last year. Richard Holbrooke died at the age of sixty-nine. Last Friday he suffered a torn aorta, a large artery that carries blood from the heart to the body.

President Obama called Richard Holbrooke "one of the giants of American foreign policy."

Anthony Dworkin is an analyst for the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Richard Holbrooke with U.S. General Wesley Clark in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in 1995
Richard Holbrooke with U.S. General Wesley Clark in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in 1995

ANTHONY DWORKIN: "He made enemies but he also got things done and in that sense he was a very effective negotiator."

Mr. Holbrooke began as a foreign service officer in Vietnam in nineteen sixty-two. He may be remembered most for negotiating the peace deals that ended the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Those deals included the nineteen ninety-five peace agreement for Bosnia. The talks took place at an Air Force base near the American city of Dayton, Ohio.

Haris Silajdzic, a member of Bosnia's three-member presidency, took part in those talks and praised Richard Holbrooke's diplomatic skill.

HARIS SILAJDZIC: "The world has lost a very able diplomat. We need good people all over the world to prevent wars and to make peace. He was one of the best."

Mr. Holbrooke's deputy, Frank Ruggiero, is now acting in his place.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.


Contributing: Lisa Bryant, Ayaz Gul, Marcus Harton, Ravi Khanna, Kent Klein, Dan Robinson and Mike O’Sullivan

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this page misidentified Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik as the Afghan interior minister.