Tag Archive | Obama

No direct military intervention in Pakistan: US

WASHINGTON: The White House and the US military chief indicated on Wednesday that there would be no direct military intervention in countries like Pakistan or Yemen where Al Qaeda seemed to have established its bases.

The White House, however, said that the United States would continue to use “actionable intelligence” to target Al Qaeda hideouts, indicating that drone strikes at suspected terrorist targets would also continue.

In a speech at the George Washington University, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said that for “a big part of the next couple of years (the United States will be focussed on) the execution of this Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy” that President Barack Obama announced on Dec 1.

The debate over direct US military intervention to prevent terrorists from attacking the United States has been reignited after the Christmas Day attack on a Northwest Airlines plane over Detroit. Several lobbies, particularly those on the extreme right, are demanding direct US military actions against suspected terrorist targets, with or without consulting the governments concerned.

Responding to a question about this possibility, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the United States would continue to support actions taken by local authorities against suspected terrorist facilities in their areas.

“We’ll continue to do so and continue to be supportive of those efforts,” he said.

Separately, President Obama told a briefing at the White House on Tuesday that his administration had “taken the fight to Al Qaeda and its allies wherever they plot and train, be it in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in Yemen and Somalia, or in other countries around the world”.

At the university in Washington, Admiral Mullen also tackled this question, reminding his audience that countries like Pakistan and Yemen were sovereign states and the United States respected their sovereignty.

“It is a sovereign country and we all recognise that. So we are going to continue to support the Yemeni government in the execution of their strategy to eliminate these terrorists,” said the US military chief when asked about a possible military action against terrorist hideouts in Yemen.

His presentation, however, focussed heavily on Pakistan and Afghanistan. Emphasising Pakistan’s importance in the war against extremists, he said that the US focus could not be limited to just Afghanistan, it had to include Pakistan as well.

“I’ve been to Pakistan one time before I took this job over, and I just made my 14th trip over the last couple of years just to give you an indication of the need to understand, the need to be there, the need to try to see challenges through other people’s eyes and not just take the American view from here in Washington,” he said.

“And I’ve learned a lot, and I think we all have. Very instructive to me has been the policy debate that we had late last year for almost three months about the strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

The United States, he said, was now in the execution phase of this ‘courageous’ strategy, which has provided him with “the resources we need now to turn it around in Afghanistan”.

Admiral Mullen said that 42 nations supported Mr Obama’s Pak-Afghan strategy, creating “a big international and diplomatic and political and developmental and economic plan that’s associated with executing this strategy over the next couple of years”.

The US military chief said that while he had his concerns about Yemen for at least a year, the policy debate held at the White House late last year focussed on eliminating suspected Al Qaeda safe havens in Pakistan.

Admiral Mullen said that since 9/11, the United States had taken “an unbelievable number of actions” in Pakistan to prevent possible terrorist attacks.

Obama declares swine flu emergency

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama has declared swine flu a “national emergency” as the United States reels from millions of cases of infection and more than 1,000 deaths.

The emergency declaration, which was made public Saturday, lets doctors and nurses temporarily bypass certain federal requirements so they can better handle a spike in influenza A(H1N1) patients.

The declaration comes just days after Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warned that demand was outstripping supply of vaccine for the novel flu strain. “The 2009 H1N1 pandemic continues to evolve,” Obama said in the declaration.

“The rates of illness continue to rise rapidly within many communities across the nation, and the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden health care resources in some localities.”

US officials however said the declaration was not issued due to any specific development, but rather as a pre-emptive measure.

As Americans waited for more vaccine shipments, 46 of the 50 states now report widespread swine flu activity — an unusually early uptick that ordinarily takes place in January or February at the peak of a normal flu season.

“By rapidly identifying the virus, implementing public health measures, providing guidance for health professionals and the general public, and developing an effective vaccine, we have taken proactive steps to reduce the impact of the pandemic and protect the health of our citizens,” Obama said.

Among other things, the declaration gives Sebelius temporary authority to allow local authorities to set up makeshift emergency rooms to treat possible flu victims separate from regular patients.

Western leaders demand Iran open nuclear site

PITTSBURGH: US President Barack Obama and the leaders of France and Britain said Friday that the existence of a previously secret Iranian nuclear facility ups the ante on Tehran in international talks next week, declaring that Iran must cooperate on its suspected weapons development ‘or be held accountable.’

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Iran has until December to comply or face new sanctions.

‘We will not let this matter rest,’ said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who accused Iran of ‘serial deception.’

‘The Iranian government must now demonstrate through deeds its peaceful intentions or be held accountable to international standards and international law,’ said Obama.

Their dramatic three-way statement opened the G-20 economic summit here.

Obama urged Iran to fully disclose its nuclear activities and said the International Atomic Energy Agency must investigate the newly revealed site.

Iran has kept the facility, 160 kilometres southwest of Tehran, hidden from weapons inspectors until a letter it sent to the IAEA on Monday, which was publicly disclosed for the first time Friday.

But the US has known of the facility’s existence ‘for several years’ through intelligence developed by US, French and British agencies, a senior White House official said.

Obama decided to gather allies to talk publicly about it after Iran’s letter made clear it had become aware that Western intelligence knew of the project, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to let the statements from Obama and the leaders remain the focus.

The plant would be about the right size to enrich enough uranium to produce one or two bombs a year, but inspectors must get inside to know what is actually going on, the official said.

Obama hopes the disclosure will increase pressure on the global community to impose new sanctions on Iran if it refuses to stop its nuclear program.

Beyond sanctions, the leaders’ options are limited and perilous; military action by the United States or an ally such as Israel could set off a dangerous chain of events in the Islamic world. In addition, Iran’s facilities are spread around the country and well-hidden or buried, making an effective military response logistically difficult.

The leaders did not mention military force. But Sarkozy said ominously, ‘Everything, everything must be put on the table now. We cannot let the Iranian leaders gain time while the motors are running.’

The disclosure comes on the heels of a UN General Assembly meeting at which Obama saw a glimmer of success in his push to rally the world against Iranian nuclear ambitions. And it comes just days before Iran and six world powers are scheduled to discuss a range of issues including Tehran’s nuclear program.

Germany is one of those six powers, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Friday that her country views the revelation of the second nuclear site as ‘a grave development’ and called on Iran to answer IAEA questions about it ‘as quickly as possible.’

She said Germany, Great Britain, France and the United States had consulted on the issue and agreed to a joint response. Merkel did not appear with Obama, Sarkozy and Brown because she had an already-scheduled meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the same time.

She said ‘we will see’ about the reactions of Russia and China, which also are part of the group of six but always more reluctant to take a firm line on Iran.

Earlier this week, Medvedev opened the door to backing potential new sanctions against Iran as a reward to Obama’s decision to scale back a US missile shield in Eastern Europe. But it’s unclear if that will translate into action.

The senior administration official said Obama told Medvedev about the facility during their meeting this week in New York. The Chinese were informed about 48 hours ago and are ‘just absorbing these revelations,’ the official said.

Before the scheduling of the October 1 meeting, the US had long avoided direct talks with Tehran over its nuclear program.

‘Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow,’ Obama said.

Sarkozy and Brown struck an even more defiant tone. ‘The international community has no choice today but to draw a line in the sand,’ Brown said.

Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made no mention of the facility while attending the UN General Assembly in New York this week. But he insisted that his country has fully cooperated with international nuclear inspectors. Iran denies that it is enriching uranium to build a nuclear bomb – as the West suspects – and says it is only doing so for energy purposes.

However, Iran is under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions for refusing to freeze enrichment at what had been its single publicly known enrichment plant, which is being monitored by the IAEA.—AP

Instead of more troops, perhaps more drones

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama may change course again as the war worsens in Afghanistan, steering away from the comprehensive counter-insurgency strategy he laid out this spring and toward a narrower focus on counter-terror operations aimed at al-Qaeda.

The White House is looking at expanding counter-terror operations in Pakistan as an alternative to a major military escalation in Afghanistan.

Two senior administration officials said Monday that the renewed fight against al-Qaeda could lead to more missile attacks on terrorist havens inside Pakistan by unmanned US spy planes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made.

The armed drones could contain al-Qaeda in a smaller, if more remote, area and keep its leaders from retreating back into Afghanistan, the officials said.

The prospect of a White House alternative to a deepening involvement in Afghanistan comes as administration officials debate whether to send more troops — as urged in a blunt assessment of the deteriorating conflict by the top US commander there, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

The president thus far has not endorsed the McChrystal approach, saying in television interviews over the weekend that he needs to be convinced that sending more troops would make Americans safer from al-Qaeda.

Tellingly, Obama reiterated in those interviews that his core goal is to destroy al-Qaeda, which is not present in significant numbers in Afghanistan. He did not focus on saving Afghanistan.

‘I’m not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face,’ Obama told NBC television’s ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday.

Top aides to Obama said he still has questions and wants more time to decide. The officials said the administration aims to push ahead with the ground mission in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, still leaving the door open for sending more US troops. But Obama’s top advisers, including Vice President Joe Biden, have indicated they are reluctant to send many more troops — if any at all — in the immediate future.

The proposed shift would bolster US action on Obama’s long-stated goal of dismantling terrorist havens, but it could also complicate American relations with Pakistan, long wary of the growing use of aerial drones to target militants along the porous border with Afghanistan.

Most US military officials have preferred a classic counterinsurgency mission to keep al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan by defeating the Taliban and securing the local population.

However, one senior White House official said it’s not clear that the Taliban would welcome al-Qaeda back into Afghanistan. The official noted that it was only after the 9/11 attacks that the United States invaded Afghanistan and deposed the Taliban in pursuit of al-Qaeda.

Pakistan will not allow the United States to deploy a large-scale military troop build-up on its soil. However, its military and intelligence services are believed to have assisted the US with airstrikes, even while the government has publicly condemned them.

Wider use of missile strikes and less reliance on ground troops would mark Obama’s second shift in strategy and tactics since taking office last January.

But stepping up attacks on the remnants of al-Qaeda also would dovetail with Obama’s presidential campaign promise of directly going after the terrorist network that spawned the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Over the past few weeks, White House and Pentagon officials have debated the best way to defeat al-Qaeda — and whether to send more troops to Afghanistan to battle the extremist Taliban elements that hosted Osama bin Laden and his operatives in the 1990s and have continued to aid the terrorist group.

McChrystal has argued that without more troops the United States could lose the war against the Taliban and allied insurgents.

‘Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it,’ McChrystal wrote in a five-page Commander’s Summary that was unveiled late Sunday by The Washington Post.

His 66-page report, which was also made public by the Post in a partly classified version after appeals from Pentagon officials, was sent to Defence Secretary Robert Gates on August 30 and is now under review at the White House.

In an interview Monday with CNN, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said, ‘Where General McChrystal is asking for more resources, in all aspects, to boost the effort against terrorism, he has our support there.’

But Karzai added that the US and its allies also need to ‘concentrate on the sanctuaries for terrorists outside of Afghanistan.’

White House officials have made clear that Pakistan, where the US cannot send troops, should be the top concern since that is where top al-Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden himself, are believed to be hiding.

Very few al-Qaeda extremists are believed to still be in Afghanistan, according to military and White House officials.

There have been more than 50 missile strikes against Pakistan targets since August 2008, according to an Associated Press count. Two weeks ago, a US drone killed a key suspected al-Qaeda recruiter and trainer, Pakistani national Ilyas Kashmiri.

A draft study by Notre Dame Law School professor Mary Ellen O’Connell found that drone attacks by the US in Pakistan began in 2004, jumped dramatically in 2008 and continue to climb so far this year.

But the attacks target Taliban in Pakistan as well as al-Qaeda, O’Connell said in an interview Monday, pointing to an August 5 CIA missile strike that killed Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

‘The only reason people think drones are successful is because they’re doing a body count,’ O’Connell said. ‘They’re not looking at the bigger picture’ of Pakistani animosity, she added.

One of the White House officials said that Mehsud, an al-Qaeda ally, was targeted as a threat to Pakistan at the behest of that nation’s leaders.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers divided largely on party lines over whether more US troops should be sent to Afghanistan. Several said McChrystal’s assessment shows that the American strategy in Afghanistan remains murky, and renewed demands that the general personally explain his conclusions to Congress.

‘We have reached a turning point in Afghanistan as to whether we are going to formally adopt nation-building as a policy,’ said Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., a former secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration.

High-level Obama aides said the Pentagon’s case to send more troops was being pushed most aggressively by Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.

White House officials were caught off guard and reacted with displeasure last week when Mullen told a Senate panel that more troops were all but certainly needed in Afghanistan, and that a second report asking for the additional forces would be delivered ‘in the very near future.’

Gates has said he has not decided whether he agrees that more troops are needed, and Obama made clear in his weekend interviews that he is far from ready to decide.

‘Al-Qaeda has shifted bases to Pakistan’

PHOENIX: US President Barack Obama says Al-Qaeda and its allies have shifted their bases from Afghanistan to the remote, tribal areas of Pakistan.

The US President said that terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot be eradicated in a short time span.

Speaking at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, Obama said that the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan would enable Al-Qaeda to plan similar attacks to that of 9/11.

He reiterated that the war on terror is necessary for the defence of the people.

According to the US president the perpetrators of 9/11 are planning more attacks and if left unchecked the Taliban insurgency will mean the creation of larger safe havens from which Al-Qaeda could plot to kill more Americans.

‘As I said when I announced this strategy, there will be more difficult days ahead. The insurgency in Afghanistan didn’t just happen overnight, and we won’t defeat it overnight. This will not be quick. This will not be easy.’

‘But we must never forget: This is not a war of choice; this is a war of necessity.’

‘Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defence of our people,’ said the US president.

Obama seeks extra aid for wars

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has formally asked lawmakers for another 83.4 billion dollars to pay for the immediate needs of his revamped strategy for Afghanistan and for the war in Iraq.

In a letter to his top Democratic ally in the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Obama pleaded Thursday for swift passage of the emergency spending measure, citing the worsening situation in Afghanistan.

‘We face a security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that demands urgent attention. The Taliban is resurgent and Al-Qaeda threatens America from its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border,’ he said.

‘With that reality as my focus, today I send to the Congress a supplemental appropriations request totaling 83.4 billion dollars that will fund our ongoing military, diplomatic, and intelligence operations,’ said the president.

The package includes items not related to the two conflicts, including 350 million dollars for security and counter-narcotics work along the US-Mexico border and 89.5 million dollars for efforts to secure Russian nuclear materials and pursue disablement and dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear work.

But ‘nearly 95 per cent of these funds will be used to support our men and women in uniform as they help the people of Iraq to take responsibility for their own future — and work to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan,’ Obama said.

The president’s Republican foes were expected to join his Democratic allies in approving the request, despite growing unease among some on his party’s left flank about the escalation in Afghanistan and the pace and scope of the military draw-down from Iraq.

The request includes 75.85 billion dollars for military and intelligence operations in the two wars, and another 7.1 billion for international aid — including 400 million to help Pakistan battle extremists.

It also includes 800 million dollars to support the Palestinian Authority and provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, and 200 million dollars in aid to Georgia.

Another 800 million dollars would go to UN peacekeeping operations, fund an expanded mission in Democratic Republic of Congo, and pay for a new mission in Chad and the Central African Republic.

Obama had firmly opposed using supplementals to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and grouped them in his regular budget for fiscal year 2010, which begins October 1, but the White House said the US military needs money now.

‘We can’t wait until the appropriations process is done in September or August or September to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in June,’ said spokesman Robert Gibbs.

‘The honest budgeting and appropriations process that the president has talked about falls somewhat victim to the fact that this is the way that wars have been funded previously,’ the spokesman said.

But ‘this will be the last supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan,’ he promised.

Both the Pakistani and Afghan envoys to Washington called on the United States and its allies to provide more cash and military tools to defeat extremists and alleviate poverty.

Pakistan’s Husain Haqqani welcomed the new Obama strategy, but contrasted the amount with the multi-billion-dollar bailouts extended to US companies in distress.

‘The resources that are being committed may look big to some but very frankly, I think that a company on the verge of failure is quite clearly able to get a bigger bailout than a nation that is accused of failure,’ he said.

Haqqani added, ‘Why does Afghanistan or Pakistan get less resources allocated to solving a bigger problem (extremism) than, say for example, some failed insurance company or some car company whose real achievement is that they couldn’t make cars that they could sell?’

Source: Dawn News

Obama speech draws praise in Mideast

BEIRUT – Syria’s foreign minister praised President Barack Obama’s address to the Arab and Islamic world in Turkey, and many Arabs were cheered by the American leader’s promises to push for a Palestinian state.

On his first visit as president to a predominantly Islamic nation, Obama reached out to Arabs and Muslims in his Ankara address, saying the United States “is not and never will be at war with Islam.” He also spoke of the Arab-Israeli peace process, saying he will “actively pursue” the goal of creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

In an interview published Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Obama’s speech “reflects a clear attention toward the two-state solution.”

Al-Moallem said Obama’s words were “important” and “positive.” But he hinted that Arabs expect Washington to pressure the new hard-line Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept the creation of a Palestinian state.

“We need to see how the United States will deal with an Israeli government representing the extreme right, and continues to reject the two-state solution,” al-Moallem told Lebanon’s As-Safir newspaper.

Netanyahu’s office on Monday issued a statement saying Israel would “work closely” with the U.S. on peace, but it avoided any mention of a two-state solution.

Syria is one of the big tests of the Obama administration’s attempts to strike a new tone in relations with Mideast nations. Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush sought to isolate Syria to force it to stop its support of militant groups like Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas and do more to prevent militants from entering Iraq.

The Obama administration has said it seeks a dialogue with Syria — as well as with Syria’s ally and Washington’s biggest regional rival, Iran. Damascus has appeared eager for better ties, hoping for an economic boost and U.S. mediation of peace talks with Israel, though it has shown little sign of being ready to cut its backing for militants.

More broadly, Obama’s visit to Turkey aimed to overcome widespread resentment in the region for what many saw as the Bush administration’s aggressive policies against Muslims and Arabs. Top Arab satellite news networks Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya carried his speech to Turkey’s parliament Monday live, as well as a town hall meeting Obama held with Turkish students on Tuesday in which he said he wants to work with Muslims.

Lebanese columnist Rajeh Khoury said Obama’s visit to Turkey draws a “road map for the relationship between the West and Islam.”

Tareq Masarwah, a columnist in Jordan’s Al-Rai newspaper, pointed to the significance of Obama’s choosing Turkey — a mainly Muslim nation but with a strong secular tradition — as a nod to “moderate Islam.”

“Moderation is what we need to confront the extremism and the violence which has dominated Muslims the past three decades,” Masarwah said.

But, he said, “the sole bridge toward reconciliation is a Palestinian state.”

Though many Arabs were angered by the U.S. invasion of Iraq and other American policies in the region, the biggest dispute they most often cite is the Palestinian issue, and what they see as Washington’s bias toward Israel.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed Obama’s endorsement of a Palestinian state. “We hope that the Israeli government will understand that this is the only path to peace,” he told The Associated Press.

But Yehia Moussa, a lawmaker with the Hamas militant group, said “What’s important is not that he talks nicely, but what he does on the ground.”

“Until now we haven’t seen any positive actions on the Palestinian issue. He is repeating the same positions as Bush,” Moussa said.

Source: Yahoo News

Obama launches effort to reduce nuclear arms

PRAGUE – President Barack Obama on Sunday launched an effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons, calling them “the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War” and saying the U.S. has a moral responsibility to lead as the only nation to ever use one.

In a speech driven with fresh urgency by North Korea’s rocket launch just hours earlier, Obama said the U.S. would “immediately and aggressively” seek ratification of a comprehensive ban on testing nuclear weapons. He said the U.S. would host a summit within the next year on reducing and eventually eliminating nuclear weapons, and he called for a global effort to secure nuclear material.

“Some argue that the spread of these weapons cannot be checked — that we are destined to live in a world where more nations and more people possess the ultimate tools of destruction,” Obama said to a bustling crowd of more than 20,000 in an old square outside the Prague Castle gates.

“This fatalism is a deadly adversary,” he said. “For if we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable.”

Obama targeted his comments at one point directly at North Korea, which launched a rocket late Saturday night in defiance of the international community. The president was awoken by an aide and told of the news, which occurred in the early morning hours in Prague.

“North Korea broke the rules once more by testing a rocket that could be used for a long range missile,” Obama said. “This provocation underscores the need for action — not just this afternoon at the UN Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons.”

At a summit with leaders of the European Union later in the day, Obama called for a swift, joint statement condemning North Korea’s actions, and said the foreign ministers from the countries were in the process of crafting one.

Addressing another potential nuclear foe, Obama said in his speech the U.S. will present Iran with “a clear choice” to join the community of nations by ceasing its nuclear and ballistic missile activity or face increased isolation and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

He said the U.S. will proceed with development of a missile defense system in Europe as long as there is an Iranian threat of developing nuclear weapons. If that threat is removed, he said, “The driving force for missile defense in Europe will be removed.”

The choice of Prague for such a speech carried large symbolism, and Obama didn’t ignore it. Decades of communism were toppled in Czechoslovakia through the 1989 Velvet Revolution, so named because it was one of the few peaceful overthrows of communism in the Iron Curtain. The Czech Republic split from Slovakia in 1993.

Obama praised the Czechs for helping “bring down a nuclear-armed empire without firing a shot.”

Obama coupled his call for a nuclear-free world with an assurance that America would not unilaterally give up nuclear weapons. It must be a one-for-all, all-for-one endeavor, he said, and until that is possible, the U.S. will maintain a big enough arsenal to serve as a deterrent.

Few experts think it’s possible to completely eradicate nuclear weapons, and many say it wouldn’t be a good idea even if it could be done. But a program to drastically cut the world atomic arsenal carries support from scientists and lions of the foreign policy world.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed by former President Bill Clinton but rejected by the Senate in 1999. Over 140 nations have ratified the ban, but 44 states that possess nuclear technology need to both sign and ratify it before it can take effect and only 35 have do so. The United States is among the key holdouts, along with China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan.

Ratification of the test ban was one of several “concrete steps” Obama outlined as necessary to move toward a nuclear-free world, He also called for reducing the role of nuclear weapons in American national security strategy, negotiating a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia, and seeking a new treaty to end the production of fissile materials used in nuclear weapons.

Obama also said the U.S. will seek to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation treaty by providing more resources and authority for international inspections and mandating “real and immediate consequences” for countries that violate the treaty.

Obama spoke after conferring with Czech leaders. He is nearing the end of a sweep through five nations in Europe, pivoting from the global economic swoon to the war in Afghanistan to, now, the crisis in North Korea and the fate of the nuclear world.

Pakistan aid tied to tackling terror threat: Obama

STRASBOURG: Release of additional US aid for Pakistan will be dependent on how Islamabad tackles the threat of terrorism, US President Barack Obama said on Saturday at the end of a Nato summit.

‘I informed our allies that despite difficult circumstances we are going to put more money into Pakistan, conditional on action to meet the terrorist threat,’ he told a news conference.

‘We want to bring all of our diplomatic and development skills to bear towards strengthening Pakistan in part because they have to have the capacity to take on al Qaeda within their borders.’

Obama backs Turkey EU membership bid

PRAGUE: US President Barack Obama gave his backing Sunday to Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, saying it would anchor the mainly Muslim nation in the West.