Obama: US must have "exit strategy" in Afghanistan

Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:00pm EDT

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WASHINGTON, March 22 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama insisted on Sunday that military force alone would not end the war in Afghanistan and suggested a U.S. "exit strategy" could be part of a new comprehensive policy he is expected to unveil soon.

Obama, in an interview on CBS's "60 Minutes" program, previewed in broad terms his administration's review of Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy based on recommendations from senior U.S. officials and consultations with allies.

He made clear his new approach would call for a greater emphasis on economic development in Afghanistan, diplomacy with neighboring Pakistan and better coordination with international partners than under his predecessor George W. Bush.

"What we can't do is think that just a military approach in Afghanistan is going to be able to solve our problems," Obama said. "So what we're looking for is a comprehensive strategy. And there's got to be an exit strategy ... There's got to be a sense that this is not perpetual drift."

Undertaking his first major trip abroad since taking office on Jan. 20, Obama meets NATO leaders at an April 3-4 summit in Strasbourg, France where Afghanistan troop levels will be high on the agenda.

Obama is shifting the U.S. focus from the unpopular war in Iraq to the conflict in Afghanistan, where violence has increased to its highest level since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban in 2001. (Editing by Chris Wilson)




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