World News Brief, Wednesday October 7

Pentagon to teach US troops Afghan culture; Kim Jong-Il willing to rejoin Six-Party talks; Taliban: international aid not in "the interests of muslims"; Israeli leader cancels UK trip fearing arrest; and more

Top of the Agenda: New U.S. Units in Afghanistan

The Pentagon is creating two new units in Afghanistan aimed at helping troops deepen their understanding of the country and its politics and culture, the Wall Street Journal reports. The units will include a so-called Afghan Hands program run out of the Pentagon, as well as a new intelligence center within Central Command

Separately, the New York Times reports U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared to "subtly rebuke" General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, for publicly rejecting calls for scaling back the military effort in that country. Gates said those advising U.S. President Barack Obama as he shapes a new Afghanistan strategy should "provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately."

Obama will visit the National Counterterrorism Center today to call attention to (NYT) military operations involving missile strikes and raids on al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, Somalia and else where, as debate continues in Washington over whether such an approach in Afghanistan could offer a viable alternative to sending more troops.


Afghanistan expert Clare Lockhart says more attention must be paid to rebuilding the country's civilian institutions.


McChrystal's review of U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, in which he calls for an increase in troops, can be read here.

The Washington Post reports on the military debate over whether to withdraw from isolated rural parts of Afghanistan where U.S. troops are more vulnerable to attack and refocus on urban centers.


PACIFIC RIM: North Korea-China Talks

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il told Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Monday that North Korea will be willing to return (Yonhap) to the Six-Party Talks on nuclear disarmament if bilateral talks with the United States are productive.

A CFR Backgrounder looks at the framework and major milestones of the Six-Party Talks.

Japan: In Foreign Policy, Jeff Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University says Japan's environmental record is "not as stellar as it may appear," and outlines the challenges ahead for the new Democratic Party of Japan government as it moves to improve the country's energy and environmental policies.



Former Israeli military chief cancels UK trip amid fears of war crimes arrest.
Taliban claims responsibility for attack on UN office in Pakistan.

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