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Aid to Pakistan on 'ability to confront' Taliban: US

world Updated: Apr 24, 2009 09:02 IST
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Stating that the rapid expansion of the Taliban in Pakistan is very "disturbing", the US on Friday said the Obama administration's proposed economic aid to Islamabad would be directly linked to its "ability to confront" extremism.

The advances of Taliban which moved to about 100 km of Islamabad by taking control of Burner district just outside the capital region has stunned the US.

"The news (coming from Pakistan) over the past several days is very disturbing. The administration is extremely concerned," White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, told reporters that the current deteriorating situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan has been consuming much of the time of the US President Barack Obama. But he did not elaborate any detail.

What is happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan are the central foreign policy focus of this Administration, Gibbs said.

"That's why you've seen this administration propose increases in investments directly related to military security and the ability to confront extremists," Gibbs said.

"You know that this President has called attention to the deterioration in this region for quite some time, and I think Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton was very candid about this yesterday," he said.

"Obviously, as I said at the top of this, we're extremely concerned about the situation and it's something that takes a lot of the President's time," he said.

While announcing the new Af-Pak policy last month, Obama had said that Pakistan should no longer expect blank checks from the US and that Islamabad would be made accountable for the money it would receive from the US.

"That's why you've also seen a dedication of and an increase in the investments that are needed to demonstrate that what both Afghanistan and Pakistan have to offer is far greater than what violent extremists offer: democracy, rule of law, judges, schools, and a peaceful way of life versus harmful extremism."

That's what this president has been focused on in this short period of time, ensuring the security and the stability of this region, Gibbs said.