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Pak's restive areas a 'huge problem' for US: Obama

world Updated: Jul 28, 2008 08:57 IST

Ahead of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's maiden visit to the US, Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama has said that Al-Qaeda's safe haven in the Pakistan's restive northwest is a "huge problem" for the American troops.

At the Unity Convention of minority journalists in Chicago, Senator Obama repeated what top administration officials including senior military officials have been saying persistently -- that "more effective cooperation" is needed from Pakistan to get rid of the safe havens.

"They've (al Qaeda and Taliban) got safe havens there (in Pakistan's tribal areas) that US troops cannot follow -- that is a huge problem," Senator Obama said.

"We're going to need more troops in Afghanistan. But we're also going to need more effective cooperation from the Pakistani government in rooting out these safe havens," the Illinois Senator said.

Obama is expected to meet Gilani tomorrow in which the goings on along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and safe havens inside Pakistan are expected to be discussed. The Democrat Senator has had some tough words for Islamabad since last August on tracking down the al Qaeda and the Taliban stressing that if Washington had actionable intelligence it will strike unilaterally.

"... We've got to get Afghanistan right. If you've got Al-Qaeda, you've got the Taliban in training camps and safe havens just a few miles inside the Pakistan border that can act with impunity, then it is going to be hard for us to stabilise Afghanistan.

"And those folks are in a position then to plot how to kill Americans. We've got to get the Pakistani government involved in a much more significant way than they are right now," he added.