Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said the al-Qaeda leadership resides in the federally-administered tribal areas (FATA) of Pakistan and the United States is determined to defeat them.
"The top priority, with respect to that strategy, is to defeat al-Qaeda, whose leadership resides in the FATA -- in the federal areas, the tribal areas -- in Western Pakistan," Mullen said in his remarks at a luncheon held at the National Press Club in Washington on Thursday.
Referring to the recent developments in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mullen said things are now moving in the right direction and the United States now needs to remain engaged in both the countries.
"A year ago, not many people would have said that the Pakistani military could pull that (Swat) off, and yet they have made an awful lot of progress," he said.
"Then that kind of both effort and the cooperation that we're trying to generate through our engagement in the long run, I think, with the development of the Afghan security forces and the Pakistani security forces, puts growing and continued pressure on that threat that I talked about earlier," Mullen said.
"It is not perfect. We still are working our way. We have ways to go in terms of those relationships, which are between Pakistan and Afghanistan. And that's, I think, historically known, and obviously we've got a ways to go with our own relationships for those two countries. But I think we need to stay engaged, and overall, we're moving in the right direction," Mullen said.