US President Barack Obama praises Britain's 'extraordinary' contribution towards the Nato effort in Afghanistan. "Well first of all, my heart obviously goes out to the families of those British soldiers. And Great Britain has played an extraordinary role in this coalition. Understanding that we cannot allow either Afghanistan or Pakistan to be a safe haven for Al Qaeda. Those who would, with impunity, blow up train stations in London or buildings in New York. And so we've got a core mission that we have to accomplish. We knew that this summer was going to be tough fighting, that there was an interest in the Taliban exerting control, they have I think been pushed back, but we still have a long way to go. We've got to get through elections. The most important thing we can do is to combine our military efforts with effective diplomacy and development, so that Afghans feel a greater stake and have a greater capacity to secure their country. And post-election, once the election's taken place in September in Afghanistan, I think we need to start directing our attention to how do we create an Afghan army, an Afghan Polic. How do we work with the Pakistanis effectively, so that they are the ones who are really at the forefront of controlling their own countries". Obama's exclusive interview in Ghana for Sky News, Here is a complete transcript of the interview: ADAM BOULTON: Mr President thank you for talking to Sky News both in Britain and of course in many countries in Africa. Could I ask you first of all, as the 'first son of Africa', if you like, to be President of the United States, how does it feel to be paying your first visit as President to Africa? PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well obviously the welcome in Ghana has been extraordinary. People have been gracious and so thoughtful. To be able to bring my children here and to experience, for example, this castle and to understand that particular story of the African Diaspora, I think is something that will stay with them for a long time. And hopefully the message we're also sending is that the United States is committed to Africa. We want to be a partner, not to dictate how Africa moves forward but to be there in a relationship of mutual responsibility and mutual respect. AB: I mean what does Africa mean to you? Is it half of you? OBAMA: Well, no, I don't think it would be fair to say it was half. You know, I never lived here. I didn't visit until I was in my mid-twenties. But I think that it is a source of inspiration, it's also a place that, because of my familial connection you know, I think I feel very personally when I think about children who aren't getting opportunities, when I think about the problems of HIV/AIDS, or issues of corruption. These are things that people I know, family members of mine, have experienced. It's not something I see in abstract terms. AB: Yet sometimes reading your first book and also even listening to you today talking about corruption, there's a degree of impatience to a certain extent. OBAMA: Well I think that's right. There is impatience. You know my general attitude is that there is just so much promise here. I remember the first time that I travelled as a US Senator to Kenya, we had our American press pool with us and some of the reporters came back to me and said, you know we were talking to people on the streets and it's amazing how well informed these folks are and they're up on not just Kenyan politics but US politics. And I said you're right, these are folks of extraordinary talent and capacity. And the problem is that they don't have institutional structures that allow them to thrive. And it is up to governments and leaders to, not do for people, but to give them the opportunity where if they work hard and are willing to put in some sweat that they can succeed. And not enough of that has been done here AB: Yeah there's Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, corruption, despotism. OBAMA: Yeah. And at some point despite the tragic history of Africa, we have to say that the days of colonialism are over, that Africa has the resources and the talent necessary to move forward and it's time to go ahead and get things done. And for those of us in the West, I think our obligation is to on the one hand say we are committed to working with you and we will provide you assistance where possible. But it's got to be a mutual responsibility to lift up the continent. AB: You mention colonialism. It's been alleged that you don't like the Brits because what they did to your grandfather. OBAMA: Yeah, I've always been curious about this allegation. I love the Brits And I think I've shown my affection every time I've travelled there but yeah, I think this is an example of Fleet Street trying to sell newspapers. AB: But also, I mean, there must be some resentment in countries that were -- OBAMA: Well, no, I mean look, the notion that somehow I would judge countries at this point based on what happened a hundred years ago is not something that would make much sense. AB: Can I ask you on the other front, we're here at a slave fortress at which many Africans Americans started their journey to America and I think your own wife has said she can't trace her family, she didn't know how they got there. We saw you going round with your children, your family. Pretty sombre experience for you all. OBAMA: Well sombre but I think instructive. I'm glad my children came because part of what I try to communicate to them is that slavery, like the Holocaust, like other instances of extraordinary cruelty, can happen anywhere, any place, and is usually rooted in one group of people asserting superiority over another group of people. And I want them to learn very early how dangerous that mindset can be. And to fight against it. AB: What should the fact of slavery, I think you called it the United State's original sin once, what should that mean to African Americans today? OBAMA: Well, I think that it is important to understand that history and not paper it over. On the other hand I think it should be a source of great inspiration for black and white Americansthat we have been able to overcome so many of the remnants of slavery. Not all. We still have instances of discrimination. There are still structural inequalities that grew out of the history of slavery and discrimination AB: Do you represent post-racial America? OBAMA: WellI rarelyI don't use that term. Just because it somehow implies that the door is closed to any issues related to race. And I just don't think that's true. But I do think there is no doubt that my election signifies extraordinary progress, progress that my grandparents or Michelle's grandparents could have never have imagined. AB: Just one final question on Africasuggestion coming that actually if you look at the amount of aid flowing in, if you look at even the optimistic, what's going through Congress at the moment, proposals on climate changethey won't go nearly far enough to save this continent. OBAMA: Well, you know, Africa is often troubled but always resilient. And I think that we have to, in the West, on issues like climate change, take seriously our obligations - our carbon footprint is far larger than the African carbon footprint is. And we're already seeing some effects here in Africa from a warming planet. So we've got a special obligation, but I'm confident that as difficult as it is, working together, that we can not just save Africa, but save ourselves. AB: And the bill - is it enough? OBAMA: Well, theit is the first step in what will be a long journey. AB: Moving on to Afghanistanthe United States has paid a much higher price in lives in both Iraq and Afghanistan, than Britain. You've had more troops there. Yet this week, there have been 15 deaths in fewer days and the number of British military killed in Afghanistan now exceeds Iraq. A growing number of people at home who are just saying we haven't got this mission right, perhaps we don't have the strength or the support that we need. What do you say to that? OBAMA: Well first of all, my heart obviously goes out to the families of those British soldiers. And Great Britain has played an extraordinary role in this coalition. Understanding that we cannot allow either Afghanistan or Pakistan to be a safe haven for Al Qaeda. Those who would, with impunity, blow up train stations in London or buildings in New York. And so we've got a core mission that we have to accomplish. We knew that this summer was going to be tough fighting, that there was an interest in the Taliban exerting control, they have I think been pushed back, but we still have a long way to go. We've got to get through elections. The most important thing we can do is to combine our military efforts with effective diplomacy and development, so that Afghans feel a greater stake and have a greater capacity to secure their country. And post-election, once the election's taken place in September in Afghanistan, I think we need to start directing our attention to how do we create an Afghan army, an Afghan Polic. How do we work with the Pakistanis effectively, so that they are the ones who are really at the forefront of controlling their own countries. AB: You've been speaking to Gordon Brown. Have you been asking him to strengthen the force in Afghanistan? OBAMA: You know we had a conversation early on while I was still doing a review, to make sure that I had his insights and ideas about how to approach this. We think that the British have made an extraordinary contribution. I think that all of us are going to have to do an evaluation after the Afghan election to see what more we can do. It may not be on the military side. It may be on the development side providing Afghan farmers alternatives to poppy crops, making sure we're effectively training a judiciary system and a rule of law in Afghanistan that people trust. So there are a whole range of ways that coalition members are going to be able to --- AB: But do you need the British forces? I mean you've taken over from them in Basra, you've now leading the mission in Helmand. OBAMA: Well look, the contribution of the British is critical. This is not an American mission. The mission in Afghanistan is one that the Europeans have as much, if not more, of a stake in than we do. Certainly the Afghans as well as the Pakistanis have more of a stake than we do. The likelihood of a terrorist attack in London is at least as high, if not higher, than it is in the United States. And that's the reason why Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and others have made this commitment. It's not because they wish to put their young men and women in harm's way, it's because of a recognition that we've got a serious fight on our hands and we've got to deal with it smartly, but we've got to deal with it effectively. AB: Final question because I am keeping you from Air Force One, President Assad last week invited you on Sky News to start negotiating face to face and to go to Syria. Are you going to accept that invitation? OBAMA: Well, you know I think that we've started to see some diplomatic contacts between the United States and Syria. There are aspects of Syrian behaviour that trouble us and, you know, we think that there is a way that Syria can be much more constructive on a whole host of these issues. But, as you know, I'm a believer in engagement and my hope is that we can continue to see progress on that front. AB: Thank you very much for engaging with us. OBAMA: Thank you, I enjoyed it. (Sky News)