NATO Troops 'Probably' Out Of Afghanistan By 2014

Today's AfPak news ound-up:

NATO: Troops (probably) out by 2014. The new deadline enjoys widespread support from non-American contributors to the Afghan war effort, most of whom have already set deadlines for the withdrawal of their own troops from the country. The 2014 target, however, is nonbinding and could be changed to address changes in Afghanistan's security situation. NATO's force commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, was reportedly resistant to the the idea of a withdrawal deadline, even a provisional one. [NYT]

Washington warms to talks with insurgents. While still publicly resistant to the idea of peace talks with the Taliban, U.S. officials are privately encouraging Afghan President Hamid Karzai to take the lead in negotiations. This shift reportedly came after President Obama, frustrated with the Afghan war's lack of progress, reminded his national security advisors that he promised to talk to America's enemies during his 2008 election campaign. [Guardian]

Clinton speaks out for Afghan women's rights at summit. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to reassure Afghan women worried the West would sacrifice their rights for a peace deal with the Taliban, telling diplomats in Kabul that "an Afghanistan that is stable, peaceful and secure is in everyone's interest, particularly women and children. But it cannot come at the cost of women." [AFP]

Karzai to get greater say over aid budget: draft communique. The communique, to be released after the Kabul summit closes tomorrow, repeats a commitment made by international donors earlier this year to give at least half of their Afghan development aid to the Afghan national government, rather than regional governments or independent aid agencies. The pledge, however, is contingent on the Karzai government doing more to tackle corruption. [NYT]