by Alexander Mallin & Arlette Saenz
Yahoo News / Good Morning America
May 23, 2016
President Obama has released a statement confirming the death of Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, following an airstrike Saturday along the Afghanistan and Pakistan border.
Obama called Mansoor’s death “an important milestone in our longstanding effort to bring peace and prosperity to Afghanistan.”
“We have removed the leader of an organization that has continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and Coalition forces, to wage war against the Afghan people, and align itself with extremist groups like al Qa’ida,” Obama said in a paper statement.
The statement calls on the Taliban to “seize the opportunity” to re-engage in peace talks with Afghanistan’s government, with Obama warning that “we will continue taking action against extremist networks that target the United States.”
While Pakistan’s government said Sunday the airstrike amounted to a violation of its sovereignty, Obama noted the U.S. will work with the country but that “terrorists that threaten all our nations must be denied safe haven.”
President Obama personally authorized the strike against Mansoor before leaving on a week-long trip to Vietnam and Japan.
Speaking in Hanoi Monday, Obama told reporters Mansoor’s death sends a message that the U.S. will protect its people.
“Where we have a high profile leader who has been consistently part of operations and plans to potentially harm U.S. personnel and who has been resistant to the kinds of peace talks and reconciliation that ultimately could bring an end to decades of war in Afghanistan,” Obama said. “Then it is my responsibility as commander in chief not to stand by but to make sure that we send a clear signal to the Taliban and others that we are going to protect our people and that’s exactly the message that has been sent.”