NEW YORK, Dec 7: President-elect Barack Obama offered guarded praise for the actions of President Asif Ali Zardari in the aftermath of Mumbai bombings saying “he has sent the right signals”, and expressed hope for establishing “close, effective working relationship”.

In an interview with NBC News for the ‘Meet The Press’ programme on Sunday, Mr Obama was asked about President Zardari’s response to the terrorist attacks in India. He said: “Thus far, President Zardari has sent the right signals. He’s indicated that he recognises this is not just a threat to the United States but is a threat to Pakistan, as well.”

Mr Obama also observed: “There was a bombing in Pakistan just yesterday that killed scores of people. And so you’re seeing greater and greater terrorist activity inside Pakistan.”

“I think this democratically elected government understands that threat, and I hope that in the coming months that we are going to be able to establish the kind of close, effective working relationship that makes both countries safer,” Mr Obama said.

He declined to weigh in with any great detail on the aftermath of the bombings in Mumbai.

He said he expected his national security team – including Hillary Clinton whom he’s designated as secretary of state, and Robert Gates who will remain defence chief – to come up with a “comprehensive strategy” for dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism.

Mr Obama said he still wanted to refocus military strategy on Afghanistan from Iraq. The US should proceed with plans to draw down US forces in Iraq as “quickly as we can to maintain stability in Iraq”.

“We have to have more effective military action” in Afghanistan, he said.

That includes adding more US troops, greater coordination with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and more vigorous diplomacy in the region, he said.

On Iran, Obama said the US must “ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy” that will make clear “that their development of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable”.

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