Obama reviews Afghanistan strategy report

14:50, December 15, 2010      

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Taliban fighters pose with weapons in an undisclosed location in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan in this December 13, 2010 photo. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday met with his national security team for their monthly Afghanistan / Pakistan meeting, reviewing findings of a report of the administration's strategy in the war.

Obama met for nearly two hours with the national security team, which include Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pentagon Chief Robert Gates, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and other cabinet members and security chiefs.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a briefing that Obama reviewed the findings of the draft national security staff-led report on implementing the war strategy, focusing on the three different components of the review: al-Qaida senior leadership, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"In each area, the president and his team discussed both the progress that has been made as well as areas for additional focus moving forward," said Gibbs

Obama will make a statement on the review Thursday, presenting the findings of the review, said Gibbs. He said Obama has been reviewing the document in the past few days, and directed the national security staff to augment it.

The meeting is the last such gathering before Obama unveils the review, which Gibbs said will not likely contain "a lot of surprise."

The spokesman said the results will include "important progress in halting the momentum of the Taliban in Afghanistan ... success at degrading senior al-Qaida leaders, and ... greater cooperation over the course of the past 18 months with the Pakistani government."

He said the review will also look at "the continued challenges that we have in that region," but "does not call for any additional force changes."

Obama ordered the deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan late last year, but the troops made few progress in changing the outlook of the war. Officials have been making optimistic comments about the war.

Gibbs said the administration is "comfortable with the strategy that we've picked, and now we're implementing that strategy."

The review is the first comprehensive look at whether Obama's strategy is working before the scheduled beginning of withdrawal in July, 2011. NATO allies have agreed a timeframe of beginning the security transition to Afghan national forces in 2011 through 2014.

The review "will show that we're on track for July 2011," Gibbs said.

One day before the meeting, Richard Holbrooke, a veteran diplomat in charge of the civilian side of the Afghan war, died unexpected following surgery for a tear in his aorta.

The meeting began with a tribute to the special envoy. Gibbs said although the administration will "miss his presence in the future," but Holbrooke's strategy of the war is "bigger than any one person".

Source: Xinhua

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