U.S. President Barack Obama confirms that the leader of the Afghan Taliban had been killed in an American air strike. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed on Monday (May 23) that the leader of the Afghan Taliban had been killed in an American air strike, an attack likely to trigger another leadership tussle in a militant movement already riven by internal divisions. Obama, on a three-day visit to Vietnam, reiterated support for the government in Kabul and the Afghan security forces, and called on the Taliban to join peace talks. The president authorised the drone strike that killed Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a remote region just on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan on Saturday (May 21), and Afghan authorities have said the mission was successful. Calling the death "an important milestone", Obama said Mansour had rejected peace talks and had "continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and Coalition forces". However, he stressed that the operation against Mansour did not represent a shift in U.S. strategy in Afghanistan or a return to active engagement in fighting following the end of the international coalition's main combat mission in 2014. A decision is expected later this year on whether to stick with a timetable that would see the number of troops cut to 5,500 by the start of 2017.