Barack Obama says he would repeat Pakistan raid
Barack Obama says he respects Pakistani sovereignty but would go after another 'very high-value target' if found to be there
Barack Obama has indicated he would be prepared to launch another US raid into Pakistani territory if another leading terrorist suspect was found to be hiding there.
In a BBC interview before a state visit to London this week, Obama described the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad this month as a "powerful moment" for America.
He said he wanted to establish a more co-operative relationship with Islamabad after outrage in Pakistan over the US action, which was carried out without prior notice.
Asked what he would do if the US found another "very high-value target" there , such as the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, Obama indicated he would act again.
"I've always been clear to the Pakistanis – and I'm not the first administration to say this – that our job is to secure the United States," he said on BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.
"We are very respectful of the sovereignty of Pakistan. But we cannot allow someone who is planning to kill our people or our allies' people – we can't allow those kind of active plans to come to fruition without us taking some action.
"Our hope is, and our expectation is, is that we can achieve that in a way that is fully respectful of Pakistan's sovereignty. But I had made no secret – I had said this when I was running for the presidency – that if I had a clear shot at Bin Laden that we'd take it."
Obama acknowledged that the raid on Bin Laden's compound had been a "calculated risk" that could have ended very differently. "There's no doubt that that was as long a 40 minutes as I care to experience during my presidency," he said.
On Afghanistan, Obama said international forces had succeeded in knocking the Taliban "back on its heels", but in the end there would have to be a political settlement.
"Ultimately, it means talking to the Taliban, although we've been very clear about the requirements for any kind of serious reconciliation," he said. "The Taliban would have to cut all ties to al-Qaida, renounce violence, and they would have to respect the Afghan constitution. Now those are some fairly bare bones requirements."
Obama spoke warmly of the relationship he and and his wife, Michelle, had established with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, whom they met when they attended the G8 summit in London in 2009.
"They are extraordinarily gracious people. They could not have been kinder to us," he said.
He disclosed that when Mrs Obama returned to Buckingham Palace with their two daughters, they were given the chance to ride through the grounds in one of the carriages.
"She [the Queen] could not have been more charming and gracious to the girls," he said. "I think what the Queen symbolises not just to Great Britain, but to the entire Commonwealth and obviously the entire world, is the best of England. And we're very proud of her."
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