Vice President-elect Joe Biden promised U.S. support for the Afghan government's struggle against terrorism, drugs and corruption in a surprise visit Sunday to southern Afghanistan, a center of the Taliban insurgency.
The future of the region "affects us all," said Biden, on the second day of his trip to Afghanistan.
Biden met with Ghulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand Province, and other Afghan officials inside a coalition base on the outskirts of Helmand's provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, a spokesman for Mangal said.
He also was briefed on activities of coalition forces in the south by Dutch Maj. Gen. Mart de Kruif, NATO's regional commander. They discussed "the future of southern Afghanistan, to include the addition of American troops later this year," a NATO statement said.
MILITANTS STRIKE ACROSS BORDER
Hundreds of militants crossed over from Afghanistan to attack a Pakistani military outpost Sunday, officials said, in an illustration of the merging of the Taliban insurgency on the two sides of the border.
The brazen raid against a Pakistani Frontier Corps camp in Mohmand, in the lawless border tribal region, left six security troops and 40 insurgents dead.
The 600 or so attackers were eventually driven off, but scattered skirmishes continued, said a paramilitary official, who gave details on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to comment to the media.
The official said the bulk of the militants crossed over from Afghanistan and later joined with Pakistani allies. He said it was unclear when the Afghan-based militants came over. He described them as foreigners, which could also include Arabs, Uzbeks and other insurgents.
VOTE DELAYED ON IRAQI SPEAKER
Iraq's parliament delayed a vote on a new speaker Sunday after the main Sunni bloc failed to agree on a candidate and instead descended into bitter infighting.
The 275-member legislature convened for the first time this year to select a replacement for former Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni who resigned last month after widespread complaints about his erratic behavior.
The post is supposed to go to a Sunni Arab under a complicated system that distributes key positions to the different religious and ethnic communities. But the main Sunni bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, has been unable to agree on a candidate. Deputy speaker Khalid al-Attiyah, a Shiite, said legislators decided to delay the vote for a few days so the Sunnis can resolve their differences.