Obama considers 'comprehensive' exit strategy from Afghanistan

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

U.S. Army soldiers in Kunar province
Image: soldiersmediacenter.

United States President Barack Obama is seeking a "comprehensive exit strategy" from the Afghanistan war.

During a 60 Minutes interview, Obama said, "There’s got to be an exit strategy. There’s got to be a sense that this is not perpetual drift."

In February Obama said that 17,000 more troops would be sent this year before the August elections to supplement the 36,000 American troops already deployed in Afghanistan.

Obama stated that the U.S. Mission in Afghanistan is "making sure that al-Qaeda cannot attack the U.S. homeland and U.S. interests and our allies. That’s our No. 1 priority." Options for a strategy include improving Afghan-Pakistani relations, while rebuilding Afghanistan's economy.

"I found a very encouraging symmetry of views between our NATO allies and other troop-contributing countries and the United States," Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan stated.

"In the past, the United States government stove-piped it, they had an Afghan policy and a Pakistan policy. We have to integrate the two and I hope the rest of the world will join us in that effort," said Holbrooke.

Obama also said that "the complexities of Afghanistan are matched, maybe even dwarfed, by the complexities of the economic situation. There needs to be a way to withdraw from Afghanistan and place the focus on economic growth. We may need to bring a more regional diplomatic approach to bear. We may need to coordinate more effectively with our allies. But we can't lose sight of what our central mission is."

European allies have stated they have exit plans for the next three to four years. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President says that although he supports the idea, he urges that there is no need for any "quick fixes".