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Monday, June 28

We’re only interested in Afghanistan’s stability: Obama

President Barack Obama said Sunday that there’s “a lot of obsession”
About the withdrawal date for US troops from Afghanistan. He said his focus is on making sure the mission there is successful. Obama’s show of frustration about when he will end the unpopular war in Afghanistan came in his closing press conference at the G-20 summit in Toronto, where industrialized countries committed to slash their budget deficits in half by 2013. The president said the United States shares that commitment. I think that right now the debate surrounding Afghanistan is presented as either we get up and leave immediately because there’s no chance at a positive outcome, or we stay basically indefinitely and do quote unquote whatever it takes for as long as it takes, Obama said. Obama’s policy falls somewhere in the middle, thereby pleasing few. He reiterated that a July 2011 date to begin withdrawing troops does not mean the US will “suddenly turn off the lights and let the door close behind us.” Under Obama’s policy, the number of US troops in Afghanistan will first climb to 98,000. Obama offered a rationale for the nation’s very presence in Afghanistan. Other G20 issues gave Obama some breathing room. Our allies in the War in Afghanistan will not hold him to an earlier pledge of beginning troop withdraws next summer. Instead, a commitment to stay engaged until at least 2015 was announced. Also, talks brokered by Pakistan between Afghanistan and the Taliban have been given mild support. Also, China may be more open to sanctions on North Korea. While on the other side Canada’s largest city was on tenterhooks Sunday after violent weekend protests against a G20 summit left a trail of smashed bank windows and storefronts, and burnt out police cars. Police said they have arrested around 600 demonstrators, many of whom were hauled away in plastic handcuffs and taken to a temporary holding center constructed for the summit. Despite the violence, no serious injuries were reported among police, protesters and bystanders, Toronto Police told.