Karzai's visit to Washington; Thai army will seal off protest site; China's currency hit by European crisis; US warns Israel to stop demolishing homes in East Jerusalem; UK's new coalition government holds first cabinet meeting; and more
Top of the Agenda: Obama and Karzai Soothe Tensions
U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai cleared the air of residual tensions during Karzai's extended visit to Washington (WashPost). Both leaders acknowledged the political difficulties in maintaining their, at times troubled, partnership. Obama discussed the need to protect Afghan civilians, while Karzai spoke of his visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center the previous day. Obama told reporters he believed the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy was on schedule, allowing U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan to begin in July 2011. Karzai secured Obama's endorsement of his Taliban reintegration plan. The visit comes ahead of Karzai's plans to convene a peace conference, as well as a U.S. military push into Kandahar. Obama's senior advisors, who have disagreed over whether Karzai is a reliable partner in the U.S.-led war effort, said the meeting was constructive.
The success of the coming Kandahar offensive largely depends on whether Afghans can overcome their distrust of Karzai's government (NYT).
In the Washington Post, Zalmay Khalilzad says normalizing U.S.-Afghan relations requires a credible agreement on specific issues, such as a new division of labor on security in Afghanistan, and clarifying Karzai's strategy in dealing with the Taliban.
Karzai's visit gave the White House an opportunity to reassure him and the Afghan public of the U.S. commitment to long-term success in Afghanistan, writes CFR's Brett McGurk.
This Backgrounder analyzes the Taliban's role in Afghanistan.
PACIFIC RIM: Thai Army to Seal Off Protest Site
The Thai army said it will surround a protest camp (BangkokPost) in Bangkok to increase pressure on opposition demonstrators.
China: Concern is growing that a prolonged European debt crisis could delay the expected revaluation (FT) of China's currency against the U.S. dollar.