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Jan 13, 2010

U.S. senator: allies must send Afghan trainers

KABUL (Reuters) – A leading U.S. senator on Wednesday blasted allies for an “unacceptable” shortfall in trainers for Afghan troops, saying just over a third were in place to do a job that holds the key to an early U.S. withdrawal.

Michigan Senator Carl Levin, who chairs the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, said other nations, whom he declined to name — should carry out their commitments for trainers.

Jan 9, 2010

U.S. farm chief wants useful Russia poultry talks

SHANNON, Ireland (Reuters) – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Saturday he hoped for “meaningful” talks with Moscow next week over a ban on U.S. poultry, warning relations would be harmed if the issue were not resolved.

Vilsack said a team of U.S. technical experts was due in Russia around January 17 to discuss this month’s ban on U.S. poultry imports because of Moscow’s concern over a commonly used chlorine treatment.

Jan 6, 2010

Holbrooke to visit Afghanistan, Pakistan next week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, plans to visit both countries next week as part of “routine” consultations with their governments, said a spokeswoman for his office.

En route to the region, Holbrooke will stop over in Abu Dhabi for meetings with other special envoys ahead of an international conference on Afghanistan in London on Jan 28, said the spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified.

Dec 17, 2009

U.S. faults Afghan corruption body’s independence

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The anti-corruption body formed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai suffers from “serious shortcomings” and lack of independence, with its top staff also serving as advisers to Karzai, said a U.S. audit on Wednesday.

The audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, was harshly critical of the High Office of Oversight, or HOO, established in July 2008 by Karzai to oversee and coordinate efforts to fight corruption, which is seen by Washington as fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Dec 16, 2009

U.S., Pakistan clash over crackdown on militants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With Islamabad resisting U.S. pressure to crack down on militants, Washington is in a quandary as it seeks to balance military goals in the region without causing trouble for Pakistan’s pro-American president.

Pakistan’s efforts to oust the Afghan Taliban in its northwestern border areas are critical to U.S. attempts to roll back the Taliban campaign in neighboring Afghanistan where Washington is sending in 30,000 additional troops.

Dec 13, 2009

Pakistan aid package set to focus on water, power

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Electricity and water projects will be an early priority for nearly $1.5 billion a year in new U.S. nonmilitary aid for Pakistan approved by Congress on Sunday, senior U.S. officials said.

The aid is part of a $7.5 billion, five-year package proposed by President Barack Obama as one tool to combat extremism in Pakistan. He has called the region the “epicenter” of violence and Pakistan is seen as critical to U.S. efforts to fight the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

Dec 7, 2009

More clarity sought on Obama civilian Afghan plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan strategy gives military timelines but experts say it is too vague when it comes to sustainable development work or commitments on areas like women’s rights and rule of law.

In a speech last week to announce his new plan — which includes sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan — Obama underscored the goal was not nation-building and gave July 2011 as a date when U.S. forces would start withdrawing,

Dec 2, 2009

Pakistan must do better job: Clinton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Pakistan on Wednesday to do more to go after militants on their territory but sought to allay Islamabad’s concerns over increased U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

Defending President Barack Obama’s revised strategy for Afghanistan, Clinton was pressed by U.S. lawmakers to give details on what Pakistan was doing to stamp out militants who sought refuge on their territory.

Nov 25, 2009

Afghan envoy sees security handover in five years

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Afghanistan is confident additional U.S. troops and resources to be announced next week will enable security to be transferred to the Afghans within three to five years, said Afghanistan’s envoy to Washington on Wednesday.

President Barack Obama is set on Tuesday to unveil a revised strategy for the unpopular Afghan war, with at least 30,000 more U.S. troops expected to be sent to Afghanistan.

Nov 25, 2009

Obama expected to outline Afghan benchmarks, endgame

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Troop levels will be key to U.S. President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan strategy roll-out next week, but he is also expected to trace the outlines of an endgame, including benchmarks for the weak Afghan government.

Obama is likely to announce at least 30,000 more troops for the war, but experts and officials say a narrow focus on resources misses the point entirely, echoing the view of the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

    • About Sue

      "Sue Pleming covers foreign policy, with a focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan. She joined Reuters in London in 1990 and was based in Brussels before moving to Washington, where her most recent post was covering the State Department. She started her journalism career in southern Africa and has also done reporting stints in Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi."
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