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Officials: Obama’s plan for Afghanistan nearly complete

Obama will ask Pakistan to help against Taliban

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration expects to announce new objectives for the flagging war in Afghanistan as soon as next week that place an onus on next-door Pakistan to contain extremism, defense and administration officials said Thursday.

The White House objectives were expected to roughly parallel 15 goals contained in a 20-page classified report to the White House from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Among them were getting rid of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and adopting a regional approach to reducing the threat of terrorism and extremism in both countries.

“We’re just about done,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said in an interview with PBS’ “The Charlie Rose Show” on Thursday.

The review addresses “the safe haven in Pakistan, making sure that Afghanistan doesn’t provide a capability in the long run or an environment in which al-Qaida could return or the Taliban could return,” Mullen said, as well as the need for stability, economic development and better governance in Afghanistan, and the development of the Afghan armed forces.

An administration official said that although the review was not complete, one thrust was that Pakistan needed to recognize that combating extremism was in its own interest as well as that of U.S.- and NATO fighting forces across the border in Afghanistan. The official, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity because the review was not complete.

President Obama is expected to explain the redrawn U.S. objectives to NATO allies when he attends a NATO summit in Europe next month.

The in-house review coordinated by the White House National Security Council lays out objectives over three years to five years, although that doesn’t necessarily mean the U.S. military could leave in that time, defense officials said.

The U.S. goal in Afghanistan must be to protect Kabul’s fragile government from collapsing under pressure from the Taliban – a goal that can only be achieved by securing Pakistan’s cooperation, increasing substantially the size of Afghanistan’s national security forces and boosting economic aid in the region, according to senior military and intelligence officials.

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