Yet U.S. officials acknowledge that their influence over Pakistan is limited, consisting mostly of the money and arms they can supply. Though the situation in Afghanistan may not have improved, it does suddenly seem more manageable. "By comparison, it looks like Canada," one U.S. official said in an interview. The talks convene as fighting rages in Pakistan's Swat Valley, about 60 miles from Islamabad, the capital. Pakistani officials had hoped to strike a lasting cease-fire there by agreeing to the Taliban's imposition of Islamic law in the region. But the militants have since attempted to advance even closer to the capital, igniting the military confrontation. Obama announced his new Afghanistan-Paksistan security plan in March, pledging extra combat troops and training units for Afghanistan and civilian and military aid for Pakistan. But the Taliban's gains and subsequent fighting in Pakistan overtook that strategy. Obama on Wednesday will meet separately with Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and then will meet with them together.
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