WASHINGTON - U.S., British and Afghan officials met with tribal elders in the southern Afghanistan city of Marjah Monday to assure them the international community and Afghan government are committed to stabilizing and developing the area, now the scene of a major NATO operation against the Taliban.
At the tribal meetings known as "shuras," the message was "we are still in the early days of the military operations but we are here and we are here to stay," Rory Donohoe, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) representative in Helmand province told CNN in a phone interview, as he sat 25 kilometers from the battlefield. FULL POST
WASHINGTON – They call it "hot stabilization." Hot, as in battlefield-hot.
As soon as U.S. and NATO forces can clear Afghanistan's Marjah region of Taliban and other insurgent fighters, a civilian team plans to hit the ground – possibly within hours. Its mission: help the Afghan government get services for its citizens back up and running.
That team, called a District Support Team has been pre-positioned along with the military. It includes two State Department governance advisors, one USAID development expert and a British stabilization advisor.
Because of the danger, the DST team embeds with the military, relying on them for security, transportation and a place to sleep at night. FULL POST
Update: 1:37 p.m. ET: At the conclusion of the one-day meeting, participants in the talks issued a communique expressing their approval of the plan that Afghan President Hamid Karzai introduced earlier in the day. Major international donors were asked to pledge money for the effort, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced after the meeting that Japan has offered $50 million toward the plan. She said the U.S. military in Afghanistan also had funds at its disposal to use to support the program.
London, England - Afghan President Hamid Karzai pitched a plan for integrating Taliban fighters into mainstream Afghan society Thursday, as world powers gathered to find ways to strengthen the Afghan government in the face of a persistent Taliban and al Qaeda insurgency.
"We must reach out to all our countrymen, especially our disenchanted brothers who are not part of al Qaeda or other terrorist networks," Karzai told the participants at the London Conference on Afghanistan - a meeting of more than 60 countries and organizations looking for ways to steer the country away from the grasp of militants.
A central focus of the summit is a $500 million pay-for-peace proposal to bring Taliban fighters into the civilian fold if they promise to renounce violence. The money would create jobs and housing in an effort to moderate the Taliban fighters, helping them return to civilian life. Major international donors are expected to pledge money for the effort.
Karzai also said he would establish a national council for peace reconciliation and integration, followed by a "peace jirga" - a traditional gathering of Afghan tribal leaders - and said he hoped Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah would play a "prominent role."
LONDON, England - On the eve of a conference here Thursday on Afghanistan, NATO has signed an agreement with the foreign minister of Kazakhstan allowing transit through Kazakhstan of supplies for NATO and coalition forces. The agreement allows for supplies to start moving by air from Europe to Afghanistan "in the coming days," according to a statement from NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday in London that a separate July agreement between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev allowing flights of U.S. military equipment through Russian airspace to Afghanistan, is set up but "running more slowly than we would have liked." FULL POST