President-elect Barack Obama's incoming administration is considering a regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan that could include talks with Iran, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The newspaper, citing unnamed Obama national security advisers, also said the incoming officials support talks between the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai and "reconcilable" members of the Taliban.
Once he takes over as president of the United States on Jan. 20, Obama intends to renew the U.S. focus on hunting down Osama bin Laden, responsible for the deadly Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., the Obama advisers told the Post. They said this will be a priority for the new administration and that the president-elect believes President Bush has played down after years of failing to apprehend the al-Qaeda leader.
The newspaper reported that several Obama advisors and senior military strategists share the opinion that the administration of George W. Bush "has been hampered by ideological and diplomatic constraints and an unrealistic commitment to the goal of building a modern democracy" in Afghanistan.
A more realistic goal would be to help build a stable Afghanistan that rejects Islamist extremism and does not threaten U.S. interests, the officials told the Post.
None of the Obama advisers or the military strategists would speak openly, "citing sensitivities surrounding the presidential transition and the war itself," the Post said.
Co-operating with Iran
During the presidential campaign Obama said that he would explore the possibility of direct talks with the U.S. foes, including Iran and Syria.
Iran, on Afghanistan's western border, has played a mixed role over the years, at times indirectly cooperating with U.S. objectives and at times assisting groups that the U.S. considers enemies.
It is still too early to say how the Obama administration would coordinate with Iran on Afghanistan, as Washington and Tehran have not had diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the U.S.-backed shah.
However the two countries share a common goal, as the Iranians "don't want Sunni extremists in charge of Afghanistan any more than we do," an unnamed senior U.S. military official told the Post.