Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Clinton and Obama Host AFPak Summit

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama today hosted the presidents of Afghan and Pakistan on a very troubled occasion. Secretary Clinton addressed Karzai and Zardari at the State Department before the two leaders met with President Obama later in the day. In her speech (go here for a complete transcript), Clinton addressed the recent loss of civilian life in Afghanistan:

On that note, I wish to express my personal regret and certainly the sympathy of our Administration on the loss of civilian life in Afghanistan. We deeply regret it. We don't know all of the circumstances or causes, and there will be a joint investigation by your government and ours. But any loss of life, any loss of innocent life, is particularly painful. And I want to convey to the people of both Afghanistan and Pakistan that we will work very hard with your governments and with your leaders to avoid the loss of innocent civilian life. And we deeply, deeply regret that loss.

At the Huffington Post, William Bradley describes the rest of today’s events:

President Barack Obama is hosting his first summit of his wartime allies, the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the so-called "AfPak" summit, dealing with what Obama calls the biggest geopolitical threat to America's security. But there's no state dinner in their honor. No address to Congress, which must fund Obama's plans (and may attach) conditions.

And the principal social event, a dinner for the presidents hosted by Vice President Joe Biden at the Naval Observatory, has its own ironic backstory. Biden famously walked out of a dinner last year with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

After their meetings today, Obama struck a note of optimism.

"I'm pleased that these two men -- elected leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan -- fully appreciate the seriousness of the threat that we face, and have reaffirmed their commitment to confronting it. And I'm pleased that we have advanced unprecedented cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan on a bilateral basis -- and among Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States -- which will benefit all of our people."

Read more.

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