WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama may have sought to sell his revamped Afghanistan war strategy to a sceptical US public, but a poll showed Thursday that he faces a tough task amid a growing isolationist surge. For the first time since the Pew Research Centre began conducting the survey 45 years ago, more participants (49 per cent) agreed that the United States should mind its own business internationally and let other countries manage on their own than those who disagreed (44pc). A majority of the public disapproved of Obamas handling of the war in Afghanistan, with 49pc of the public giving the president low marks and 36pc approving of his performance. With an Afghan government dogged by fraud-marred August elections and charges of corruption, 46pc of respondents said it was very or somewhat likely that Afghanistan would become stable enough to withstand the threat from the Taliban and other violent extremist groups. Only 32pc of those surveyed in late October and early November supported sending more troops to Afghanistan. Most - 40pc - said the troop presence should be decreased, while 19pc said the level of military forces should be kept the same. The president nonetheless had a favourable job approval rating, with 51 support for his overall performance, but Obamas numbers have dropped since he took office in January. Only one per cent listed Pakistan, which Obama has placed at the forefront of his battle against extremists, as the top international problem for the US, while 49pc said instability in Pakistan was a major threat. But 70pc said the Talibans growing strength was a major danger. North Koreas nuclear programme was seen as more of a major threat - by 69pc of respondents - than Chinas emerging power, at 53pc. In a reversal from polling early last year, 44pc said China is now the worlds top economic power and only 27pc cited the United States. In February 2008, 41pc had mentioned the US and 30pc pointed to China. According to the survey, 41pc of the public said the US now plays a less important role as world leader than 10 years ago, the highest such figures since Pew first conducted its survey in 1964. As concerns Iran, 63pc approved of the use of US military force against Tehran if the suspicions that it is developing nuclear weapons are confirmed. Another 51pc backed using US military force in Pakistan if extremists were on the verge of taking over the already fragile, nuclear armed state. Among the other countries examined, France was making a comeback, with 62pc expressing a favourable opinion, up from 29pc in May 2003 when relations frayed over French opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq. The main telephone survey, which polled 2,000 adults October 28-November 8, had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. The findings were also supplemented by a subsequent poll of 1,003 people November 12-15 with a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. Two other polls conducted May 27-June 10 and September 10-15 established various countries favourability ratings, with the same sampling error.