WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is weighing a shift in war strategy to focus more on Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and less on the Taliban in Afghanistan, officials said, arguing that the militant group does not pose a direct threat to the United States. During a three-hour meeting in White Houses Situation Room on Wednesday, some members of Obamas national security team argued the thinking about the Taliban, on the eighth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, marks the latest suggestion that the administration may be moving away from a sharp buildup of US troops in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported Thursday. Obama discussed the issue with a team of about 15 advisors, including US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and his top military commanders. General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan who provoked controversy last week with his public advocacy in London for more troops, participated via videoconference. General McChrystal is pushing for as many as 40,000 more troops there. The president has not decided whether to approve the request, the White House said. Public acceptance of the war has fallen, but according to a survey by Quinnipiac University released Wednesday, about 52 per cent think the war is the right thing for the US 65 percent are willing to have American soldiers fight and possibly die to root out terrorists in Afghanistan. A senior administration official said US officials increasingly view the Taliban in Afghanistan as a group that wants to reclaim territory and rule that country but does not aspire to attack the United States. The official contrasted that with Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. Clearly, Al-Qaeda is a threat not only to the US homeland and American interests abroad, but it has a murderous agenda, the official said. We want to destroy its leadership, its infrastructure and its capability. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday Obamas primary focus is on groups and their allies that can strike our homeland, strike our allies or groups who would provide safe haven for those that wish to do that. The Times said it was unclear whether everyone in Obamas war cabinet fully accepts this view. While Vice President Joseph Biden has argued for months against increasing troops in Afghanistan because Pakistan was the greater priority, Mrs Clinton and Gates have both warned that the Taliban remain linked to Al-Qaeda and would give their fighters havens again if the Taliban regained control of all or large parts of Afghanistan, making it a mistake to think of them as separate problems. The White House, according to the Times, is trying to prepare the ground to counter that by focusing attention on recent successes against Al-Qaeda cells in Pakistan. The approach described by administration officials on Wednesday amounted to an alternative to the analysis presented by General McChrystal. If, as the White House has asserted in recent weeks, it has improved the ability of the United States to reduce the threat from Al-Qaeda, then the war in Afghanistan is less central to American security. In reviewing General McChrystals request, the paper said, the White House is rethinking what was, just six months ago, a strategy that viewed Pakistan and Afghanistan as a single integrated problem. Now the discussions in the White House Situation Room, according to several administration officials and outsiders who have spoken with them, are focusing on related but separate strategies for fighting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Clearly, Al-Qaeda is a threat not only to the US homeland and American interests abroad, but it has a murderous agenda, an unamed senior administration official was quoted as saying. We want to destroy its leadership, its infrastructure and its capability. The official contrasted that with the Afghan Taliban. When the two are aligned, its mainly on the tactical front, the official said, noting that Al-Qaeda has fewer than 100 fighters in Afghanistan. Another official said the different views of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were driving the presidents review. To the extent that Qaeda has been degraded, and it has, and to the extent you believe you need to focus on destroying it going forward, what is required going forward? the official asked. And to prevent it from having a safe haven? Obama has defined his mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan as trying to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Qaeda and other extremist networks around the world. But he made it clear during a visit to the National Counterterrorism Center on Tuesday that the larger goal behind the mission was to protect the United States. Thats the principal threat to the American people, he said. AFP adds: President Barack Obama called British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to discuss the US review of its strategy in Afghanistan, the White House said Thursday. The two leaders discussed the ongoing review of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, agreed to remain in close consultation going forward, and underscored the importance of working closely with our allies and our Afghan and Pakistani partners, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. The call, which Gibbs said was part of their ongoing consultations, came amid an intensifying debate within the administration and Congress over whether to send more US troops to Afghanistan.