Afghanistan and US sign security deal; Hong Kong stock market falls in reaction to protests; South Korea proposes 500 percent import tariff on rice to protect local farmers; 12 killed in Ukraine despite ceasefire; Iran 'most dangerous country in world', says Netanyahu; and more
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Afghanistan and United States Sign Security Deal
A high representative for new President Ashraf Ghani signed a bilateral security agreement (Reuters) with the United States on Tuesday, which will allow 10,000 U.S. military personnel to remain in Afghanistan through 2016 after the official combat mission ends in December 2014. Although former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign (NYT) the deal despite U.S. threats of a full withdrawal, both President Ghani and Government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah promised to sign the agreement during their campaigns. The signing of the security deal comes a day after President Ghani was sworn in following a power-sharing deal with Abdullah, his former opponent.
"By agreeing to the deal so quickly, President Ghani is resetting a relationship soured by his predecessor Hamid Karzai, who refused to sign the agreements, and to the end attacked the US and its forces. The US ambassador to Kabul, Jim Cunningham, said that Tuesday's signing sent a broader signal to the region about continuing US commitment to Afghanistan," writes David Lyon for the BBC.
"There is an important lesson to be learned here: It's vitally important to keep a substantial commitment of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after this year. Military commanders are asking for at least 10,000 personnel, and if that request isn't granted by the White House (as leaks suggest it may not be), the odds will increase that Afghanistan, like Iraq, will descend into a civil war that undoes everything U.S. troops sacrificed so much to achieve," writes CFR's Max Boot in the Los Angeles Times.
"Our job now is to support Afghanistan for the Afghans — and to stay committed to a country of people who believe in a better future with an inclusive government that serves them all. Even as this political transition concludes and as Afghanistan takes responsibility for its own security, we must continue to support that aspiration," writes Secretary of State John Kerry in the Washington Post.
Hong Kong Leader Calls Beijing's Decision Final
Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed leader, Leung Chun-ying, announced that neither he nor Beijing would back down (SCMP) in the face of protests and called for protestors to return home. The Hong Kong stock market fell 1.9 percent on Monday and an additional 1.3 percent Tuesday (NYT).
All of Beijing's options come with significant political and economic costs writes CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy.
SOUTH KOREA: The government in South Korea submitted its plans to open its rice market (Yonhap) to the World Trade Organization on Tuesday; the country has proposed a 513 percent import tariff to protect local farmers.