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U.S.-Pakistan reset: Still need to deal with terrorist sanctuaries

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

A Pakistan parliamentary committee has released its recommendations for “resetting” the parameters of U.S.-Pakistan relations. U.S.-Pakistan ties have been severely strained since the November 26, 2011, NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the border with Afghanistan.

Since then, there have been no high-level U.S. visits to Pakistan, and NATO supply routes running through Pakistani territory have been shut down. The Pakistani parliament’s efforts to reframe the relationship could be helpful in restoring ties, as long as the U.S. brings its own terms to the table.

Starting point for U.S.-Pakistan negotiations
The recommendations from the parliamentary commission include calling for the U.S. to end drone strikes on Pakistani territory; to apologise for the November 26, 2011, NATO strike; to start paying fees for the transit of NATO shipments for the war in Afghanistan; to refrain from “hot pursuit” operations by U.S. forces from Afghanistan into Pakistani territory; and to increase transparency of the activities of foreign security contractors. The parliament will now debate the commission’s recommendations and eventually vote on a resolution on U.S.-Pakistan ties, possibly within the next week.

Afghanistan: Negotiating while withdrawing is poor strategy

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

In the wake of a U.S. Army staff sergeant’s murdering 16 Afghan civilians (mostly women and children), U.S. officials are contemplating the pace and scope of the U.S. troop drawdown from the country. At the same time, they are seeking a negotiated settlement with the Taliban leadership. U.S. and NATO Commander in Afghanistan General John Allen said yesterday that he did not foresee an accelerated drawdown of U.S. troops because of the shooting incident, but it is almost inevitable that this terrible tragedy will lead Americans to question the viability of the U.S. mission there.

U.S. vs China: which economy is bigger, better?

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A girl holds a U.S. and Chinese flag at the White House in Washington January 19, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files

(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

One of the most surprising developments resulting from the financial crisis is the belief among ordinary Americans that China has become the world’s leading economy. This view appeared in the roughest times of 2009 and has persisted even though the impact of the crisis has begun to ebb. U.S. media have frequently conveyed the same belief. But it is patently absurd.

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