WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States recently sent a small number of special forces soldiers to Jordan to train with counterparts from Iraq and Jordan, a new step in the Obama administration’s effort to help Baghdad stamp out a resurgent al Qaeda threat, a U.S. defense official said on Friday.
The U.S. contingent was dispatched to take part in a training exchange with counterterrorism forces from Iraq and Jordan, allowing the administration to provide a modest new measure of support to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has intensified its drive against the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in an attempt to deal a lasting blow to the militants in Afghanistan before foreign combat forces depart this year, according to multiple U.S. officials.
The effort is taking on added urgency as the clock ticks down on a NATO combat mission in Afghanistan set to end in December, and as questions persist about whether Pakistan will take action against a group some U.S. officials believe is quietly supported by Pakistani intelligence.
KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is taking steps it hopes could lead to a resumption of peace talks to end the Afghan conflict, including reviving a proposed swap of Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay in return for a U.S. prisoner of war.
According to Western officials familiar with the matter, President Barack Obama’s senior aides in late December resolved to renew attempts to arrange the prisoner exchange with the goal of jump-starting negotiations stalled since last June.
KABUL (Reuters) – A delegation from Afghanistan’s High Peace Council has traveled to Dubai to meet former and current Taliban figures, in the hope of laying the groundwork for peace talks to end Afghanistan’s long conflict, sources familiar with the move told Reuters.
Officials led by Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, a senior aide to President Hamid Karzai, traveled on Sunday to the United Arab Emirates, officials from the High Peace Council and the Afghan government confirmed.
KABUL (Reuters) – Severe strains in Afghan ties with the United States, the chief backer of the international military mission in Afghanistan, are likely to subside as U.S. and NATO forces depart, a contender in a presidential election in April said.
“The long-term stay of any force, in any country, will create a problem. The international community will not stay in Afghanistan forever – they should not stay forever,” former Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul said in an interview this week.
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan has improved voting procedures to ensure April’s presidential election is not plagued by the complaints of irregularities and fraud that marred the last vote in 2009, a senior official said on Sunday.
But Yousof Nooristani, head of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), said he did worry that violence could disrupt the voting in the first democratic leadership transition in Afghanistan’s history.
KABUL (Reuters) – The Obama administration will unveil on Monday a package of aid initiatives it hopes will help Afghanistan, still one of the world’s poorest countries after a dozen years of massive international aid efforts, shield itself from the departure of foreign troops and an expected drop in assistance.
The announcement from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) of three new development initiatives worth almost $300 million is part of a U.S. effort to ensure that Afghanistan, as its ‘war economy’ ends, won’t slide backwards into greater poverty or reverse gains made over the last 12 years in health, education and other areas.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration, under pressure from Congress to act against Pakistan-based militants blamed for fueling violence in Afghanistan, moved on Wednesday to freeze the assets of three suspected militants linked to the hard-line Haqqani network.
The Treasury Department said that Saidullah Jan, Yahya Haqqani and Muhammad Omar Zadran had been named “specially designated global terrorists,” meaning that assets belonging to the men within U.S. jurisdiction would be frozen.
MUNICH, Feb 1 (Reuters) – The top U.S. defense official on
Saturday underscored the Obama administration’s intention to
shift the focus of its foreign policy away from military might
Speaking at the Munich security conference, U.S. Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel said he and Secretary of State John Kerry
“have both worked to restore balance to the relationship between
American defense and diplomacy”.
MUNICH (Reuters) – The United States and Europe exchanged angry words with Russia on Saturday in a tug-of-war over Ukraine, with U.S., EU and NATO leaders saying Moscow must not strong-arm Kiev into an unpopular alliance.
At conference in Munich where Western diplomats met leaders of the Ukrainian opposition, United States Secreatary of State John Kerry said the protesters believe “their futures do not have to lie with one country alone, and certainly not coerced”.