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Obama vows no US troops on the ground in Pakistan

world Updated: Mar 29, 2009 22:24 IST

President Barack Obama said US troops would not go in hot pursuit of extremists across the Afghan border into Pakistan -- but demanded Islamabad hold up its end of the anti-terror struggle.

"I haven't changed my approach," Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS program "Face the Nation," referring to US missile strikes on militants.

"If we have a high-value target within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan, we're going after them," the president said.

Asked if he would send US troops on the ground into militant safe havens inside Pakistan, Obama stressed: "No.

"Our plan does not change the recognition of Pakistan as a sovereign government," he said. "We need to work with them and through them to deal with Al-Qaeda. But we have to hold them much more accountable."

Obama on Friday put Pakistan at the center of the fight against Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network with a new strategy to commit thousands more troops and billions of dollars to the Afghan war.

Asked if this was now his personal war, Obama said: "I think it's America's war."

"And the focus over the last seven years I think has been lost. What we want to do is to refocus attention on Al-Qaeda," he said in an oblique reference to predecessor George W. Bush's diversion of resources to Iraq.

"We are going to root out their networks, their bases. We are going to make sure that they cannot attack US citizens, US soil, US interests, and our allies' interests around the world."

With Pakistan subject to a renewed US focus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged its powerful intelligence service to cut contacts with extremists in Afghanistan, which he called an "existential threat" to Pakistan itself.