Asia

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, upon completing a two-day visit to Afghanistan on December 22, pledged that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is committed to staying in the country until the Afghan government and military are ready to take over their own defense and that there would be no deadline for the exit of allied troops from the country.

Iran test fired an improved version of its Sejil 2 medium-range missile on December 16, increasing tensions between Iran and Western powers. The Sejil 2 has a range of about 1,200 miles.

The Islamic State of Iraq, a militant umbrella group linked to al-Qaeda, claimed the blame on December 10 for a series of coordinated bombings in Baghdad this week that killed 127 people and wounded more than 500. The group posted a message on its website that it would “uproot pillars of this government and … demolish its corners.”

KarzaiAfghan President Hamid Karzai declared on December 8 that his country would not be capable of paying for the armed forces necessary to maintain internal security until at least 2024.

Katsuya OkadaJapanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada announced on December 8 that his nation was suspending talks with the United States regarding the status of American military bases in Japan. A particularly difficult issue is the American military presence at Okinawa. Japanese citizens on this island, which is part of the Ryukyu Islands on the southernmost part of the archipelago, have complained that American military personnel increase the crime rate and create environmental problems.

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