World News Brief, Friday November 20

Karzai sworn in promising the Afghan army will control the country within five years (+ analysis); North Korea offered "grand bargain" on nukes; Iran rejects uranium deal; EU to elect president today, frontrunners named; and more

Top of the Agenda: Karzai's Second-Term Inauguration

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been sworn in (al-Jazeera) for a second five-year term amid international criticism of corruption in the Afghan government and the Obama administration's consideration of a new strategy to increase US troop levels in Afghanistan. US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and representatives from more than forty other countries attended the inauguration. Karzai's speech appeared to invite election rivals Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani into a national unity government. "I want to invite both of them to contribute," he said. The speech also addressed international concerns over corruption.

Karzai promised to prosecute people (NYT) involved in the country's illegal narcotics industry and said the Afghan Army should assume full control of the country's security within five years.

Separately, US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have shifted the focus of Afghan war planning from troop levels toward an exit strategy, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Obama administration wants the Pentagon to identify key goals for the Afghan government on issues such as governance and the capability of its security forces. Brown has called for an international conference next year to establish a "process for transferring district-by-district to full Afghan control."

Obama said Wednesday he is close to making a decision (WashPost) about additional US troops, but senior aides said Thursday that the decision would not come before Thanksgiving.


In the Los Angeles Times, Gerard Russell says the situation in Afghanistan has steadily failed to get better and the Afghan government must take responsibility for its own survival.

CFR's Kim Barker, on return from a recent trip to Kabul, says Afghans are disillusioned with both the reelection of Karzai and what they perceive as the U.S desire for an exit strategy.

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, CFR's Max Boot writes that although corruption, drug-trafficking, and other civil issues are important priorities, Karzai needs to become more engaged with the war raging around him.


A CFR Backgrounder examines the Taliban in Afghanistan.



PACIFIC RIM: Obama's South Korea Visit

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and President Obama urged North Korea (Yonhap) to return to nuclear negotiations and pledged to ratify a free-trade pact in talks Thursday.

Cambodia: Cambodia has taken control (Bangkok Post) of the Thai-owned air traffic control firm Cambodian Air Traffic Services, after the Cambodian government filed charges against one of the firm's Thai engineers, accusing him of spying.



Iran says it is not willing to send enriched uranium abroad.
European leaders to vote on first EU president.


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on