Kyrgyzstan wants US out of base; Obama's focus on Afghanistan a "source of leverage"; Clinton heads to South Korea; Egyptian dissident released; Obama holds talks in Canada
Top of the Agenda: Kyrgyz Vote to Close U.S. Base
Kyrgyzstan’s parliament today voted overwhelmingly to close an important base for supplying U.S. military forces in Afghanistan (RFE/RL).
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who has already called for the closure of the Manas base, now must sign the measure and the United States would have 180 days to leave the base. The Kyrgyz move comes at a time when Taliban forces have stepped up attacks on the main road supply route from Pakistan to Afghanistan. It follows Bakiyev’s visit to Moscow, during which a $2.1 billion Russian aid package to Kyrgyzstan was announced. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticized Russia for hampering U.S.-led efforts in the region, despite Moscow’s own offer of a conduit for goods to Afghanistan.
CFR Fellow Jeffrey Mankoff writes in a new Expert Brief that the Kremlin views the Obama administration’s increased focus on the Afghan conflict as a “source of leverage – announcing that if Washington wanted the anti-Taliban campaign to succeed, it would have to go through Moscow.”
A new CFR Daily Analysis says the United States intends to take over the responsibility for providing more combat troops in Afghanistan, leaving development policy increasingly to its European allies.
PACIFIC RIM: Clinton Headed to Korea
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrapped up a visit to Indonesia, with a pledge for greater U.S. engagement in Mideast peace efforts, and praise for the country’s efforts in building democracy (BBC).
Clinton heads for South Korea at a time of escalating tensions on the peninsula and concerns that the North is preparing for the launch of a long-range missile (CNN).