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Al-Qaeda number one threat to US, says Obama

world Updated: Jan 15, 2009 10:41 IST

The US President-elect, Barack Obama, has said al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, the most wanted terrorists of the world, are the number one threat to the United States of America.

"I haven't changed my mind, that bin Laden and al-Qaeda are our number one threat when it comes to American security," Obama told reporters on Wednesday after a new voice recording emerged from the terror group's leader warning the president-elect of new fronts in bin Laden's self-styled holy war against Western interests.

The 22-minute audio recording, which the US-based Site Intelligence Group said it believes is authentic, was the first commentary from the al-Qaeda leader in last eight months.

Obama was addressing a joint press conference with his Vice President-elect, Joe Biden, along with the Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham. Both Graham and Biden returned on Tuesday from a visit to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

Obama emphasised on adopting a regional approach in resolving the Afghanistan problem, so did Biden.

"As Joe (Biden) indicated, we have to take a regional approach. We're not going to solve the problem just in Afghanistan; we're going to have address issues in Pakistan as well," Obama said adding that he would have more to say on this issue after being sworn in on January 20th.

His administration, working in concert with Congress, with Republicans and with the American people, Obama said, "We're going to do everything in our power to make sure that they cannot create safe havens they can attack America. That's the bottom line."

Terming Pakistan a determining factor in the success of the US-led war against terrorism in Afghanistan, Vice President-elect, Joe Biden said he expected things to be getting tougher before becoming better in Afghanistan.

Referring to the speeches made by him and the President-elect, Barack Obama, during election campaign days last year, Biden told reporters there would be major change in Afghan policy.

"Pakistan's position on Afghanistan is going to affect our ability to succeed in Afghanistan," Biden, who went to the region in his capacity as a Senator and outgoing Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said. During his stay in Pakistan Biden met the top Pakistani leadership, and officials from its military and intelligence.

"There is about to become a shift, which you have all known and talked about, we've mentioned it in the campaign, and that is that there need to be more resources to attend to the situation in Afghanistan, which has deteriorated over the last six years. It has not gotten better," he said.

Supporting new Administration's plan to send additional 35,000 troops to Afghanistan, Senator Lindsey Graham said that focus was diverted to Iraq and there is now need to reengage.

Graham said reengagement in Afghanistan now is going to come at a heavy price. "I would like every American to know that not only are the troops needed; unfortunately, casualties are likely to increase. But we have a game plan in Afghanistan that I think justifies the expenditures of blood and treasure that's about to come," he said.