Obama scrambles against militant threat in Afghanistan, Pakistan

The fuse that could ignite an explosion of Islamic militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is burning so fast that the Obama administration is scrambling to keep pace.

As Pakistan’s army finally opened a belated offensive against the advance of extremist Taliban fighters, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his key security ministers huddled Wednesday with their Afghan and U.S. counterparts in all-day meetings in Washington.

By Steven R. Hurst
Associated Press

Afghan President Hamid Karzai started the day on a solemn note, acknowledging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s expressions of regret for the deaths of dozens of Afghan civilians killed during Monday’s battle between U.S. forces and the Taliban.

President Barack Obama demanded the meetings as part of his complex, costly and far-reaching strategy for Afghanistan that now links success there with stability in neighboring Pakistan.

It’s a huge undertaking in distant lands where fiercely independent people have a long history of outlasting foreign militaries and refusing to change their ways. The Washington sessions represent an early test of whether a U.S. president at the start of the 21st century has sufficient leverage and power to succeed where great empires have failed.

The fuse that could ignite an explosion of Islamic militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is burning so fast that the Obama administration is scrambling to keep pace.

As Pakistan’s army finally opened a belated offensive against the advance of extremist Taliban fighters, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his key security ministers huddled Wednesday with their Afghan and U.S. counterparts in all-day meetings in Washington.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai started the day on a solemn note, acknowledging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s expressions of regret for the deaths of dozens of Afghan civilians killed during Monday’s battle between U.S. forces and the Taliban.

President Barack Obama demanded the meetings as part of his complex, costly and far-reaching strategy for Afghanistan that now links success there with stability in neighboring Pakistan.

It’s a huge undertaking in distant lands where fiercely independent people have a long history of outlasting foreign militaries and refusing to change their ways. The Washington sessions represent an early test of whether a U.S. president at the start of the 21st century has sufficient leverage and power to succeed where great empires have failed.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090506/ap_on_go_
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