Washington (CNN) - When President Obama took to the world stage to detail U.S. policy toward Afghanistan, he hammered home a key foreign policy principle: Success in Afghanistan is "inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan."
"We are in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country," he said in his Tuesday night speech at West Point. "But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That is why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border."
The United States says Pakistan looms large because Taliban and al Qaeda militants operating in Afghanistan also have had a presence in Pakistan's northwestern region near the Afghan border and have threatened the governments and troops in both countries.
One U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN the Afghan Taliban has bolstered its ranks, stepped up its attacks and increased its territory. In Pakistan, al Qaeda and other militants persist in planning strikes against U.S. interests in the region, the official said.