National Security correspondent, Washington DC
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May 18, 2012

Afghanistan fundraising goal eludes as US heads to NATO summit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – On the eve of this weekend’s NATO summit, the United States remains short of its goal of raising $1.3 billion in security funds from its partners in Afghanistan, after a money-raising blitz failed to garner immediate contributions from allies coping with fiscal and political pressures.

Who will pay for Afghanistan’s future security will be central when President Barack Obama hosts leaders from NATO and other nations in his hometown of Chicago for the May 20-21 summit that will outline the Western path out of the long war.

May 16, 2012

U.S. path out of Afghanistan faces risks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan, where the United States has already trimmed its forces ahead of the coming NATO withdrawal, a modest number of al Qaeda fighters have re-established operations, U.S. officials say, a worrying sign of the risks that could jeopardize Western hopes of a smooth exit.

Current and former U.S. officials say the fighters, believed to be mostly Arabs and Pakistanis who number less than 100, have crept back across the porous border with Pakistan to Kunar and Nuristan provinces. That is where a consolidation of NATO bases has left a force of just 4,200 Western soldiers – and a limited ability to conduct on-the-ground intelligence and security operations.

May 16, 2012

U.S.-Pakistan near deal on reopening supply lines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In what would be a major breakthrough, Pakistan and the United States appeared on Tuesday to be on the verge of clinching an agreement to reopen ground supply lines into Afghanistan, a U.S. official said, as Pakistan confirmed its president will attend a summit of NATO leaders this weekend in Chicago.

Ties between the United States and Pakistan have been severely strained over the past year, fuelling speculation Islamabad might be excluded from the high-level NATO talks on Afghanistan’s future because of the failure to reach an agreement on the supply lines, which have been shut for months.

May 9, 2012

Family pleads for U.S. prisoner at heart of Afghan peace push

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The family of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier held prisoner by the Taliban since 2009, says it is frustrated that more than a year of covert diplomacy has been unable to free their son and is urging the Obama administration to push harder for his release.

Bob Bergdahl, speaking out about his son’s case after a long silence, said he hopes U.S. negotiators will press ahead with efforts to set in motion a chain of events intended in part to lead to the release of his son, believed to be held in Pakistan since he went missing in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009.

May 7, 2012

U.S. envoy to Pakistan to depart this summer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, Cameron Munter, plans to step down this summer, and the Obama administration, hoping to improve dismal ties with Pakistan at a crucial time for its war in neighboring Afghanistan, is considering a senior official at its Kabul embassy to replace him.

The White House is focusing on Richard Olson, who has orchestrated U.S. development and economic activities in Afghanistan since June 2011, to succeed Munter when he departs in coming months, sources familiar with the discussions said.

May 4, 2012

U.S. doesn’t expect Pakistan to reopen Afghan war supply routes soon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the Taliban kicks off its spring fighting season in Afghanistan, an agreement with Pakistan that would help NATO supply its troops there could be weeks or months away, forcing military leaders to spend two-and-a-half times as much to ship some supplies through Central Asia.

The Obama administration remains locked in negotiations with Pakistan to reopen the key supply routes into Afghanistan, and officials do not expect talks bogged down over proposed tariffs and U.S. military assistance to reach resolution anytime soon.

May 1, 2012

Pentagon report paints mixed picture of war in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military presented a mixed picture of the war in Afghanistan on Tuesday, saying President Barack Obama’s surge of 33,000 extra troops had weakened the Taliban but that a resilient insurgency, persistent corruption, and selective cooperation from Pakistan posed a major threat to U.S. efforts.

In a twice-annual report to Congress, the Defense Department said overall insurgent attacks declined in 2011 for the first time in five years, even though violence increased in areas surrounding the Taliban’s southern stronghold of Kandahar, a region where U.S. efforts have been focused since 2009.

Apr 25, 2012

Military to review course teaching “U.S. at war with Islam”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top military officer ordered a review of training material after a course for officers was found to espouse the view that the United States is at war with Islam, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a letter on Tuesday to leaders of the Army and other services, along with regional commanders and officials heading the National Guard, ordering a review of relevant training and education material across the military.

Apr 24, 2012

U.S. eyes options to restart Afghan peace talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s administration, seeking to revive stalled Afghan peace talks, may alter plans to transfer Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison after its initial proposal fell foul of political opponents at home and the insurgents themselves.

As foreign forces prepare to exit Afghanistan, the White House had hoped to lay the groundwork for peace talks by sending five Taliban prisoners, some seen as among the most threatening detainees at Guantanamo, to Qatar to rejoin other Taliban members opening a political office there.

Apr 24, 2012

Exclusive: U.S. eyes options to restart Afghan peace talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s administration, seeking to revive stalled Afghan peace talks, may alter plans to transfer Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison after its initial proposal fell foul of political opponents at home and the insurgents themselves.

As foreign forces prepare to exit Afghanistan, the White House had hoped to lay the groundwork for peace talks by sending five Taliban prisoners, some seen as among the most threatening detainees at Guantanamo, to Qatar to rejoin other Taliban members opening a political office there.

    • About Missy

      "Prior to heading the Mexico bureau, Missy was deputy bureau chief in Baghdad. She has also covered commodities in Washington, DC and worked in Peru, Argentina and Egypt for Reuters."
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