World News Brief, Wednesday July 21

Afghan president Hamid Karzai gets support for plan to take lead on Afghan security; US and Korea plan major naval exercise; British PM David Cameron to make first White House visit; EU considers tougher Iran sanctions; and more

Top of the Agenda: U.S., Europe Endorse Afghan Security Plan


The United States and European countries endorsed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's plan for Afghan forces (NYT) to take the lead on Afghan security by 2014. Western foreign ministers are hoping the timeline buoys political support for the war in European countries, where citizens are demanding a clearer withdrawal plan. The endorsement of the Afghan plan came at an international donor conference in Kabul. The conference is expected to back several other Afghan government initiatives, such as a crimes task force and anticorruption tribunal, commitments on women's rights, and a response to controversy about billions of dollars leaving the country.

At the conference, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned (Guardian) the shift to Afghan control would happen slowly, based on "conditions, not calendars."

Karzai asked the international community to increase the proportion of foreign aid money (BBC) that flows through the Afghan government to 50 percent and for more control of Afghanistan's multibillion dollar aid budget.


A Washington Post editorial says U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's recent statement that "we're not engaging in nation-building" in Afghanistan is misleading, since Karzai's 2014 target "looks too ambitious to many Afghans and military experts."

In the New York Times, Paul Collier says the news that Afghanistan has $1 trillion in unmined mineral deposits could lead to deteriorating security.

CFR President Richard Haass says it is time to scale down the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan and "both reduce and redirect what we do."


This al-Jazeera Cheat Sheet outlines what leaders agreed to at the Afghan conference.


PACIFIC RIM: U.S.-S. Korea Plan Marine Exercise


The United States and South Korea are planning a major antisubmarine training exercise (WSJ) in response to the sinking of a South Korean ship earlier this year, which Seoul has blamed on North Korea.

Myanmar: At the ASEAN conference in Hanoi, Southeast Asian foreign ministers chided Myanmar's military-run government for its handling of the country's planned elections (AP) and stressed that they should be "free and fair."



- EU Considers Tougher Iran Sanctions
- Britain's Cameron to Visit Washington

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