NEW YORK - US presidential hopeful Barack Obama says the emergence of a democratic government in Pakistan provides Washington an opportunity to initiate a "new relationship" that would lead to the country's economic development and a stronger anti-terror cooperation between the two countries. "We've got to send a signal to them (Pakistan) that we are interested in national security, but we also recognize they're interested in figuring out how do they feed their people and how do they prosper economically," Obama said in a television programme, in which he displayed a far better grasp of the situation in Pakistan. His remarks marked a departure from his previous tough statements during the year-long campaign for Democratic nomination suggesting unilateral action against terrorists hiding inside Pakistan. Obama came in for some strong criticism when he said in August last year, "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President (Pervez) Musharraf won't act, we will." He held out no such threat on NBC-TV's Sunday news show: Meet the Press, moderated by Tim Russert. On another subject, Obama, who is locked in a tight race with Hillary Clinton, blasted Hillary Clinton -- and suggested she sounded like President George W. Bush -- for saying the United States should be ready to ''obliterate'' Iran if that nation attacked Israel. Dealing with the ties with Islamabad, he said, "We now have a new government in Pakistan.  We have an opportunity to initiate a new relationship...(I)nstead of just focusing on our issues, we've got to focus on some of theirs, so that we can get better cooperation to hunt down al-Qaeda and make sure that that does not become a safe haven for them."    On Afghanistan, he emphasized a more focused attention through more US troops and better reconstruction job. "I think we need more troops there, I think we need to do a better job of reconstruction there.  I think we have to be focused on Afghanistan.  It is one of the reasons that I was opposed to the war in Iraq in the first place." Obama added, " We now know that al-Qaeda is stronger than any time since 2001.  We've just received additional intelligence reports from our agencies, showing that they are growing in capability. That is something that we've got to address." The Democratic senator lambasted Mrs. Clinton for her April 22 statement to ABC-TV that should Iran attack Israel with nuclear weapons, ''We will attack Iran,'' adding, In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.'' It's not the language we need right now, and I think it's language reflective of George Bush. ''We have had a policy of bluster and saber rattling and tough talk,'' the Illinois senator said, and in the meantime have made a series of strategic decisions that have actually strengthened Iran.'' Mrs. Clinton, who was appearing at a town hall meeting on ABC's This Week, was then asked to defend her remarks, and she did. ''Why would I have any regrets?'' Mrs. Clinton asked. ''I'm asked a question about what I would do if Iran attacked our ally, a country that many of us have a great deal of, you know, connection with and feeling for, for all kinds of reasons,'' she said. ''And yes, we would have massive retaliation against Iran,'' Mrs. Clinton added, though she said, I don't think they will do that, but I sure want to make it abundantly clear to them that they would face a tremendous cost if they did such a thing.'' Apart from the presidential campaign, Mrs. Clinton has come under fire in some diplomatic circles for her April remarks. On Wednesday Iran's Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi, Iran's deputy United Nations ambassador, called them ''provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible,'' while Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, former U.N. deputy secretary-general, said her suggestion is not probably prudent.'' The candidates sparred on the national talk shows as latest polls show a dead heat in the two states voting Tuesday. They're tied in Indiana and Obama has a 5- to 9-percentage-point advantage in North Carolina. The ABC programme was moderated by George Stephanopoulos. He was a key advisor to Bill Clinton during his presidency but Stephanopoulos' relationship with the couple cooled for years after Stephanopoulos wrote a book critical of the Clinton presidency. Obama's chief political hurdle was clear as Meet the Press host Russert spent about 25 minutes quizzing him about Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the controversial pastor who guided Obama's church. Obama has distanced himself from Wright, but many voters have expressed serious concern about the relationship. Obama was emphatic Sunday about Wright. ''My commitment is to Christ. It's not to Reverend Wright,'' he said. Would you seek his counsel? Russert asked. ''Absolutely not,'' Obama replied. Obama also was asked about another persistent problem -- his inability to win big blocs of votes from white working class people in virtually every primary state. He talked about the kinship he feels with such people. ''I think it's important for people to understand not only that I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents and the values of hard work and decency and honesty that they passed on to me,'' Obama said, that those values that are rooted in the heartland of America, in small-town America.'' Mrs. Clinton had to deal with her own potential political problem -- that she could wind up winning the nomination but alienating African-American voters. Many blacks have said they would consider not voting at all if they felt Obama was unfairly denied the Democratic nod. Mrs. Clinton said she was not concerned. ''Both Senator Obama and I have made it clear we will have a unified Democratic party going into the fall election,'' she said.