Force and diplomacy

In depth


 Video: US forces chase elusive foe in Afghanistan
 Video: Afghans flee US offensive in Helmand
 Video: US strives to overcome Afghan hostility
 Video: US troops engage Taliban in major battle
 Riz Khan: Seeds of terror
 Focus: Switching sides in Afghanistan

The most important thing was for Washington and its allies to combine their military efforts in Afghanistan with effective diplomacy and development "so that Afghans feel a greater stake and have a greater capacity to secure their country," he said.

After next month's election, "we need to start directing our attention to how do we create an Afghan army, an Afghan police, how do we work with the Pakistanis effectively so that they are the ones who are at the forefront of controlling their own countries?" Obama said.

US and British forces are both involved in fierce fighting in the Taliban bastion of Helmand in southern Afghanistan.

The offensive was launched with violence at its worst levels since the Taliban were ousted in 2001 for refusing to hand over al-Qaeda leaders behind the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Helmand is also the source of most of Afghanistan's opium crop, the world's largest, which finances the Taliban.