Afghan Bombing Sends Message to India: With Power Comes Risks
The suicide bombing on Monday outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul was the latest and most audacious attack in recent months on Indian interests in Afghanistan, where New Delhi, since helping to topple the Taliban in 2001, has staked its largest outside aid package ever.
India has poured unprecedented amounts of money and people into the reconstruction of Afghanistan, a vital passage into resource-rich Central Asia. It has spent more than $750 million, building a strategic road across the country’s southwest, training teachers and civil servants, and working on erecting a new seat of the national Parliament.
That engagement has come at a mounting cost to the 4,000 Indian citizens working in Afghanistan. In the last two and a half years, an Indian driver for the road reconstruction team was found decapitated, an engineer was abducted and killed, and seven members of the paramilitary force guarding Indian reconstruction crews were slain.
Last year alone, the Indian Border Roads Organization came under 30 rocket attacks as it built the 124-mile stretch of road across Nimroz province that will ultimately link landlocked Afghanistan to a seaport in Iran.
The embassy bombing on Monday seems to have been the most effective strike: A suicide bomber blew himself up as two Indian diplomats drove into the embassy early in the morning, reducing the compound to rubble and blood. Four Indians, including the two diplomats, were killed. The bulk of the 41 dead were Afghan civilians who had come for embassy services.
China Warns Sarkozy Not to See Dalai Lama
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who is expected to announce on Wednesday that he will after all attend the opening ceremonies of Beijing’s Olympic Games, was warned by China on Tuesday not to meet with the Dalai Lama in France next month.
China’s ambassador to France, Kong Quan, told reporters there would be “serious consequences” for Chinese-French relations if Sarkozy meets the Dalai Lama, asserting that it “would be contrary to the principle of noninterference in internal affairs.”
Sarkozy has been vague on whether he would meet personally with the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader-in-exile of Tibet, regarded by China as a renegade “splittist” who has advocated resistance to China’s sovereignty.
China has repeatedly blamed the Dalai Lama and his subordinates for instigating anti-Chinese riots in Tibet three months ago and encouraging a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which the Dalai Lama has denied. Representatives of both sides recently resumed suspended reconciliation talks.
France holds the presidency of the European Union, and Sarkozy has said that his attendance at the Aug. 8 opening ceremonies will depend on progress in those talks. The Dalai Lama’s visit to France, for a conference on Buddhism, comes after the opening of the Olympics.
Report Urges Overhaul of U.S. War Powers Law
Two former secretaries of state, concluding that a 1973 measure limiting the president’s ability to wage war unilaterally had never worked as intended, proposed on Tuesday a new system of closer consultation between the White House and Congress before U.S. forces go into battle.
Their proposal would require the president to consult senior lawmakers before initiating combat expected to last longer than a week, except for covert operations or rare cases requiring emergency action, in which case consultation would have to be undertaken within three days. Congress would have 30 days to approve the military action or, if it declined to do so, could then order it ended by disapproving it.
The plan would create a new committee of congressional leaders and relevant committee chairmen, with a full-time staff that would have access to military and intelligence material. The president would be required to consult with the group in advance of any major strike and regularly throughout any extended conflict.
The two former secretaries of state, Warren Christopher and James A. Baker III, oversaw a year-long bipartisan study of the tension over war powers that has vexed the U.S. government since its founding. In a report released on Tuesday, the study group concluded that the 1973 law, which is known as the War Powers Resolution and was adopted in the wake of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, was lacking in a number of regards.
North Korean Nuclear Talks To Resume Thursday
The United States and other regional powers will resume talks with North Korea this week on ending the Communist state’s nuclear weapons programs, a South Korean envoy said Tuesday.
The six-nation talks, the first in nine months, are to begin on Thursday, the South Korean envoy, Kim Sook, told reporters before flying to Beijing for the conference among the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia.
A deadlock was broken late last month when North Korea submitted a long-delayed but partial account of its nuclear programs and the United States moved to take North Korea off its terrorism blacklist and relax some economic sanctions.
Kim said the new talks would l focus on verifying the North’s nuclear account, including the amount of plutonium the North has reported. But the envoys will also discuss speeding up the disabling of North Korea’s main nuclear complex in return for fuel aid shipments.
North Korea has delayed removing spent fuel rods — a source of plutonium — from its main nuclear reactor while complaining that the other five nations had not provided the promised fuel aid in a timely fashion.