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Osama would have escaped if Pakistan permission sought: Obama

Published on Oct 23, 2012 2:41 PM
US President Barack Obama speaks during the third and final presidential debate with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, on October 22, 2012. The showdown focusing on foreign policy is being held in the critical toss-up state of Florida just 15 days before the election and promises to be among the most watched 90 minutes of the entire 2012 campaign. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Barack Obama, in some of his most blunt remarks to date, said that Osama bin Laden would have escaped if the United States had sought Pakistan's permission ahead of the raid on the Al-Qaeda leader's compound.

Obama administration officials have previously justified the decision not to involve Islamabad by citing the risk that Osama might somehow be tipped off and flee his compound in Abbottabad before the team of Navy Seals arrived.

Mr Leon Panetta, then the director of the CIA and now defense secretary, said in an interview with Time magazine shortly after the May 2011 raid that there was a concern that the Pakistanis "might alert the targets."

But in Monday's presidential foreign policy debate against Republican opponent Mitt Romney, Mr Obama presented such risk as a certainty.

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