This is IN THE NEWS in VOA
This week marked Barack Obama's
first month as president -- and his first major action as commander-in-chief.
He approved seventeen thousand more troops for Afghanistan. The security
situation is getting worse. The Taliban has regrouped with support from
al-Qaida, which operates from safe refuge along the border with Pakistan.
President Obama was asked this week by the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation if Afghanistan is still winnable.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: "I think
Afghanistan is still winnable, in the sense of our ability to ensure that it is
not a launching pad for attacks against North America. I think it's still
possible for us to stamp out al-Qaida, to make sure that extremism is not
expanding but rather is contracting. I think all those goals are still
possible, but I think that as a consequence to the war on Iraq, we took our eye
off the ball. We have not been as
focused as we need to be on all the various steps that are needed in order to
deal with Afghanistan."
president has ordered a full review of American policy there. For now, the
deployment in the coming months will be smaller than the top American commander
requested. About thirty-eight thousand American troops are there now, plus
thirty-two thousand from other NATO members.
The Afghan Defense Ministry welcomed Tuesday's
It came the same day as the United
Nations reported that more than two thousand civilians were killed in
Afghanistan last year. That was the most since the American-led invasion in two
thousand one that ousted the Taliban government. The number was up forty
percent from two thousand seven.
investigators say militants are responsible for the majority of civilian
deaths. But foreign and Afghan troops killed more civilians last year than the
President Obama has said that the
national government "seems very detached from what's going on in the
surrounding community." Critics say one big problem is corruption.
The American special representative for
Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, visited Kabul this week. President
Hamid Karzai's term ends in May under the constitution. But election officials have
delayed the presidential election until late August. His opponents do not want
him to stay until then.
Islamabad, the Foreign Ministry is defending a new peace agreement in
northwestern Pakistan. The government of Swat province signed the deal with
representatives of local Taliban militants. The deal is not final yet, but it
calls for an Islamic system of justice for the area. Richard Holbrooke says American
officials worry that the agreement will "turn into surrender."
top diplomat, Hillary Clinton, made her first foreign trip as secretary of
state this week. New secretaries traditionally start with Europe or the Middle
East. But her trip to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China makes her the
first in almost fifty years to visit Asia first.
included economics, climate change and North Korea's nuclear program. Secretary
Clinton praised efforts to fight Islamic extremism in Indonesia, where Barack
Obama spent part of his childhood. Next week, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso is
to become the first foreign leader to visit the new president at the White
that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve