NEW YORK - With the Afghan war going badly for the US-led coalition troops, President Barack Obama has signalled that the military build-up in the Taliban insurgency-hit Afghanistan is meant to open the door to the eventual withdrawal of American and NATO soldiers. "There's got to be an exit strategy," Obama said in a wide-ranging interview shown Sunday on CBS' programme "60 Minutes". "There's got to be a sense that this is not perpetual drift." "Making sure that Al-Qaeda cannot attack the US homeland and US interests and our allies. That's our number one priority. And in service of that priority there may be a whole host of things that we need to do. We may need to build up economic capacity in Afghanistan. We may need to improve our diplomatic efforts in Pakistan," he added. The new US policy for Afghanistan to be unveiled soon will contain an exit strategy and include greater emphasis on economic development, Obama said. European officials have been outspoken about their plans to leave Afghanistan in the next three to four years. Obama's remarks, which were recorded on Friday, indicated that the administration, which has more troops and resources in Afghanistan than European countries do, is also looking for a way out of the war. With violence rising ahead of elections in August, Obama has already committed an extra 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, but on Sunday he said military force alone would not end the war. "What we can't do is think that just a military approach in Afghanistan is going to be able to solve our problems," he said. Analysts say Washington is going to have to engage in dialogue with Taliban elements, a point Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have conceded recently, but in doing so will also have to deal with the tensions between India and Pakistan. In the interview, Obama also signaled that the United States was redefining its mission in Afghanistan, away from the Bush administration's broader strategy of promoting democracy, civil society and governance in Afghanistan and toward getting the country to a point where it is not used to start attacks on the United States. Obama acknowledged the need for incorporating more meaningfully the economic, diplomatic and security components in the future policy aimed at curbing Talibanisation and eliminating the Al-Qaeda threat. Since assuming office in January this year, President Obama has made Afghanistan a top focus of his administration. A high-level panel, mandated by President Obama to review US strategy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan, is drafting a multifaceted future plan for the region, which experts say was ignored when the US diverted its attention to Iraq war. In answer to a question, Obama indicated that he is very much conscious of the fact that the United States is not seen by the people as a foreign power trying to take over the region. "I'm very mindful of that. And so is my national security team. So is the Pentagon. Afghanistan is not going to be easy in many ways. And this is not my assessment. This is the assessment of commanders on the ground," Obama explained. He underlined the significance of addressing the Afghan problem in the regional perspective. "We may need to bring a more regional diplomatic approach to bear. We may need to coordinate more effectively with our allies. But we can't lose sight of what our central mission is. The same mission that we had when we went in after 9/11. And that is these folks can project violence against the United States' citizens. And that is something that we cannot tolerate." Contrasting challenges the United States has been confronting in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, Iraq was actually easier than Afghanistan. "It's easier terrain. You've got a much better educated population, infrastructure to build off of. You don't have some of the same destabilising border issues that you have between Afghanistan and Pakistan. And so this is gonna be a tough nut to crack. But it is not acceptable for us to simply sit back and let safe havens of terrorists plan and plot," he added. Agencies add: Obama said a decision last month to send 17,000 more US troops to Afghanistan - largely to head off a spike in violence before elections in August - was the most difficult he has had to make since taking office. "You know I think it is the right thing to do. But it's a weighty decision because we actually had to make the decision prior to the completion of (the) strategic review that we were conducting," he said. US commanders have said as many as 30,000 additional troops are needed to overcome a stalemate in parts of Afghanistan. But some analysts caution against a gradual Vietnam-like escalation in a country historically hostile to outsiders. Citing Iraq as a possible model, Obama has said he supports pursuing talks with elements of the Afghan insurgency, in hopes of isolating the hardline leadership allied with Al-Qaeda. Sceptics warn a bid to lure away insurgents will only succeed if US and Afghan forces first gain the upper hand against the Taliban. And at the moment, the US commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, describes the war as a "stalemate." Even if all goes to plan inside Afghanistan, top officials say the key to the conflict lies across the border in Pakistan. "As long as you've got safe havens in these border regions that the Pakistani government can't control or reach, in effective ways, we're going to continue to see vulnerability on the Afghan side of the border," Obama said. Obama's regional diplomacy is expected to draw in India, in hopes of reducing tensions with Pakistan, and possibly Iran, which in the past has bitterly opposed the Taliban.