Gen. David Petraeus takes charge as top NATO commander in Afghanistan; 64 insurgents killed in an anti- narcotics operation in Helmand; EAM Krishna will attend Kabul conference; Secretary Clinton: People of Afghanistan do not see the return of Taliban;
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  • Gen. David Petraeus has taken command as top commander for US led NATO forces in Afghanistan on July 5 during a ceremony at NATO headquarters in central Kabul. Speaking at the occasion, Petraeus said, "We must demonstrate to the people and to the Taliban that Afghan and [coalition] forces are here to safeguard the Afghan people, and that we are in this to win."1 However, 64 insurgents were killed in a three day operation jointly conducted by Afghan anti-narcotics police and international security forces in Helmand province of Afghanistan. The operation yielded nearly 37,000 pounds of narcotics, Afghan officials noted.2

    Reports noted that External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will attend Kabul conference on July 20 which is being organized by the Afghan government aimed at bringing Taliban elements into the mainstream. About 50 countries are expected to attend the conference.3 Meanwhile, US secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that majority of the people in Afghanistan do not see return of the Taliban. "In every survey that's been done, the people of Afghanistan do not want to see the return of the Taliban. Yet, at the same time, they are constantly under attack by a relatively small, but nevertheless lethal suicidal band of extremists," Clinton stated in an interview. She expressed full confidence in General David Petraeus as the new commander of US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.4

    In other developments, reports noted that Afghan government has requested Pakistan to allow passage of Indian goods through Wagah border to Afghanistan as it is a landlocked nation. This request was made during the seventh round of the Pak-Afghan Joint Working Group in Islamabad which was jointly chaired by the finance ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, Pakistan has been denying requests by Afghanistan because of serious objections raised by Pakistan's security agencies. Afghanistan had raised this issue earlier as well during the sixth round of the Joint Working Group held in Kabul.5