WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President-elect Barack Obama plans to try a more regional approach to the war in Afghanistan including possible talks with Iran, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing national security advisers to Obama.
The president-elect also intends to move ahead with a planned deployment of thousands of additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan and refocus on the hunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the newspaper reported.
However, the Obama team is far from working out how to bring bin Laden back to the forefront of the U.S. counter-terrorism agenda, The Washington Post reported.
Obama received his first high-level intelligence briefing as president-elect last week.
While emphasizing the importance of continuing U.S. operations against Pakistan-based Taliban fighters who attack U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the incoming administration intends to remind Americans about the fight against Islamist extremists and the September 11 attacks, the newspaper said.
Advisers told the newspaper that Obama plans to underscore that al Qaeda remains the nation’s highest priority.
“This is our enemy,” on Obama adviser told the newspaper, referring to bin Laden “and he should be our principal target.”
Iran, on Afghanistan’s western border, has been kept at arm’s length by the Bush administration, but should be considered in formulating a new Afghanistan strategy, a senior U.S. military official was cited as saying.
“As we look to the future, it would be helpful to have an interlocutor” to explore shared objectives, the official told the newspaper. The Iranians “don’t want Sunni extremists in charge of Afghanistan any more than we do,” the official said.