30 Report Kerry O'Brien speaks exclusively to United States President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington.
KERRY O'BRIEN: BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT MEMORIES? PRESIDENT OBAMA: I've got wonderful memories, I used to travel through Australia when my mother was living in Indonesia and my grandparents ray ban rb3321 were living in Hawaii, and so we'd usually go through Sydney and memories I have not only of it being a beautiful country but of people being just wonderfully hospitable and kind to me are ones ray ban europe that I carry with me. KERRY O'BRIEN: WELL WE'D SEE THAT AS A GREAT INVESTMENT PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. KERRY O'BRIEN: PRESIDENTS AND PRIME MINISTERS ALWAYS TALK ABOUT A SPECIAL US AUSTRALIAN RELATIONSHIP AND ONE OF YOUR SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS TALKED ABOUT A MEETING OF MINDSKERRY O'BRIEN: BETWEEN YOU AND KEVIN RUDD. IS THERE A MEETING OF MINDS? PRESIDENT OBAMA: I really do think there is, you know Kevin is somebody who I probably share as much of a world view as any world leader out there, I find him smart but humble, he works wonderfully well in multilateral settings, he's always constructive, incisive. And, you know I think he is like me a pragmatic person, I think he comes to the job wanting to provide better opportunities not just for this generation but for the next but I think you know he's somebody who isn't an academic, or just thinking about abstract ideas, I think he's constantly thinking in very practical terms about how to get something done. KERRY O'BRIEN:AFGHANISTAN WILL OBVIOUSLY BE ON YOUR AGENDA WHEN YOU TWO MEET. YOU ONCE FAMOUSLY SAID OF THE WAR IN IRAQ: "I'M NOT OPPOSED TO ALL WARS. I'M OPPOSED TO DUMB WARS." KERRY O'BRIEN:IS AFGHANISTAN NOW AT RISK OF BECOMING A DUMB WAR? PRESIDENT OBAMA: No I think Afghanistan is a necessary mission. It's a difficult one but it's a necessary one. Obviously the reason we are there is very clearly defined, Al Qaeda used it as a launching point for an attack that killed 3000 Americans and persons of all nationalities and ethnicities. We have to root out the terrorist networks that are able to mount not just the sorts of attacks that we saw on 9/11 but also the sorts of attacks we saw on Bali that had such a devastating attack on Australian nationals. Australia is the largest non NATO contributor to our efforts there, we are grateful for the sacrifice and Prime Minister Rudd and I are in constant consultation about how we move that effort forward in a way that stabilises Afghanistan, that trains up Afghan security forces so that we are able to remove our security forces but we have confidence that Afghan will not return to a launching point for Al Qaeda operations KERRY O'BRIEN: SO YOUR OBJECTIVES ARE CLEARKERRY O'BRIEN: WHICH IS WHAT COLIN POWELL SAID AFTER THE EVENT ABOUT VIETNAM. THE LESSON ABOUT VIETNAM WAS HAVE CLEAR OBJECTIVES AND KNOW THAT YOU CAN WIN, SO THE FIRST OF THAT IS CORRECT, BUT WHEN YOU STARTED CAMPAIGNING FOR THE PRESIDENCY, YOU TALKED OF THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN BEING IN ITS SEVENTH YEAR. IT'S NOW IN ITS NINTH YEAR, AMERICA'S IN DEEPER, AND THE SITUATION DOESN'T APPEAR TO BE GETTING ANY BETTER. YOU'RE NOT HEARING THE ECHOES OF VIETNAM IN THAT ARE YOU? PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I would dispute the notion that it's not getting better. I do think that what we've seen is a blunting of the momentum of the Taliban which had been building up in the year prior to me taking office. I think that you've seen actually some reforms in the Karzai government that allow us to then actually get civilian help to ordinary Afghans and that then builds trust in the government, so I think we've got some positive trends but there is no doubt that this is a difficult task, and what I have said is that we need to begin drawing down our troops in 2011, and start handing over more and more responsibility to the Afghans, we can't be there in perpetuity neither the American people nor the Australian people should be asked to carry that burden any longer than it needs to be carried. KERRY O'BRIEN:HOW DID YOU REACT WHEN PRESIDENT KARZAI'S RECENTLY REPORTED COMMENTS WERE FIRST CONVEYED TO YOU, THAT IF HE WAS PUT UNDER MORE PRESSURE, HE MIGHT JOIN THE TALIBAN? PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well you know I don't take news reports of comments necessarily that seriously, I wait until I hear directly from a world leader, I know I'm misquoted a lot and you know what I do think is he's a proud man, I think he has a strong sense of Afghan nationalism, and he's under a very difficult circumstance. Look, this is a country that has gone through three decades of extraordinary turmoil, he is trying to rebuild a sense of a national government ray ban vintage when that is not a tradition that's been there for a long time and so he's under enormous pressure, but what we have said is that we can't succeed unless President Karzai moves forward on the reforms that are so necessary for Afghans to see a real investment in their lives day to day and improvement in their lives day to day KERRY O'BRIEN:BUT OF COURSE, HE ALSO SAID JUST BEFORE THAT wayfarer ray ban sunglasses ATTRIBUTED COMMENT THAT FOREIGNERS WERE BEHIND THE FRAUD, BEHIND THE FRAUD IN LAST YEAR'S ELECTION, WHICH EVEN YOUR OWN PRESS SECRETARY HAS DESCRIBED AS UNTRUTHFUL, AS HE ALSO DESCRIBED THOSE OTHER COMMENTS AS TROUBLING. IS PRESIDENT KARZAI STABLE ENOUGH AND WORTHY ENOUGH TO DESERVE YOUR BACKING AT A COST OF AMERICAN AND COALITION LIVES? PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well I think that President Karzai is capable of leading his country into the 21st Century and stabilising it. As I said he's got a tough task but the reason we're there ultimately is not to support one man. The reason we're there is because it's necessary for our national security, we think it's necessary for the world's security that we dismantle Al Qaeda and its affiliate networks, and we need a strong partner in that process, I think Karzai has the capacity to be that strong partner and I think that we're going to have to keep on both respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan and Karzai as the duly elected leader but continue to put pressure on him to make the kinds of reforms and improvements that will not only mean success for us but also ultimately success for him.
KERRY O'BRIEN: LAST QUESTION ON AFGHANISTAN. IT WAS REPORTED IN AUSTRALIA IN MARCH THAT GENERAL McCHRYSTAL IN A PHONE CONVERSATION WITH AUSTRALIA'S DEFENCE FORCE CHIEF, QUOTE: "WARNED THAT THE RUDD GOVERNMENT'S REFUSAL TO ALLOW AUSTRALIAN TROOPS TO TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE TALIBAN WAS IMPAIRING THE WAR EFFORT". WERE YOU AWARE OF THE GENERAL'S FRUSTRATION AND WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE AUSTRALIA DOING MORE THAN IT IS.
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