KABUL, Afghanistan — Barack Obama told Afghanistan's leader that he will dedicate more U.S. aid and military power to the region's fight against extremist groups once he takes office, the Afghan presidential office said Sunday.
The telephone conversation between Obama and President Hamid Karzai on Saturday was the first reported contact between the two since Obama won the presidential election Nov. 4.
The leadership change from President Bush could present Karzai with new challenges in his relationship with the United States. Obama has chided Karzai and his government in the past, saying it had "not gotten out of the bunker" and helped to organize the country or its political and security institutions.
The United States has 32,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, a number that will be increased by thousands next year. The current NATO commander, U.S. Gen. David McKiernan, has requested an additional 20,000 troops.
Obama also has expressed frustration with Afghanistan neighbor Pakistan over its failure to quell Islamic militants on its territory. During the presidential campaign, he said, "If Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like (Osama) bin Laden if we have them in our sights."
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in remarks televised Sunday that he has doubts about Obama's plans to fight Islamic militants in Afghanistan.
Kouchner said that France believes military power alone won't stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, and that international troops should help the Afghan people "take matters into their own hands."