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US not winning war in Afghanistan: Obama

world Updated: Mar 08, 2009 22:49 IST

President Barack Obama has acknowledged that the US is not winning the war in Afghanistan and hinted that the military would reach out to moderate elements of the Taliban in a reconciliation process, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

Asked by a reporter during an interview if the US was winning in Afghanistan, Obama flatly replied "No."

Obama pointed to the success in Iraq where insurgents were gleaned away from the more hardcore elements of Al-Qaeda, the New York Times report said.

"If you talk to General (David) Petraeus (US military central command chief), I think he would argue that part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us because they had been completely alienated by the tactics of Al-Qaeda in Iraq," Obama said.

"There may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and in the Pakistani region," he said, while adding that solutions in Afghanistan will be complicated.

"The situation in Afghanistan is, if anything, more complex. You have a less governed region, a history of fierce independence among tribes. Those tribes are multiple and sometimes operate at cross purposes, and so figuring all that out is going to be much more of a challenge," he said.

Obama also left open the option for US operatives to capture terrorism suspects abroad even without the cooperation of a country where they were found.

"There could be situations - and I emphasise could be because we haven't made a determination yet - where, let's say that we have a well-known Al-Qaeda operative that doesn't surface very often, appears in a third country with whom we don't have an extradition relationship or would not be willing to prosecute, but we think is a very dangerous person," he said.

"I think we still have to think about how do we deal with that kind of scenario."