Morning Brief: Mr. Karzai and Mr. Zardari go to Washington

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President Obama will meet with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Washington today to try to urge the two governments to work together to combat Islamist militants, offering billions of dollars in aid in return.

Zardari met with the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday in an attempt to reassure them about his country's efforts to fight the Taliban, but most lawmakers apparently left the meeting unconvinced of Pakistan's commitment. Obama also seems to be taking a more skeptical approach to Karzai than his predecessor.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is preparing a new offensive against the Taliban in the contested Swat valley. The government claims to have killed 35 militants today.

In Afghanistan, the Red Cross is now saying that U.S. airstrikes yesterday killed dozens of civilians, including children. If the reports are confirmed, the incident has the potential to overshadow the talks in Washington.


  • Nepal's Maoists have taken to the street in order to prevent other parties from forming a government.
  • U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth is traveling to Asia to attempt to restart stalled North Korea nuclear talks.
  • India's top suspect in the Mumbai attacks has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Middle East




  • The U.S. Treasury Department is planning to require that banks demonstrate they can survive without taxpayer aid before exiting the TARP program.
  • Venezuela's National Assembly gave preliminary approval to a law that would make it easier for the government to seize control of oil contracts.
  • The U.S. confirmed a second death from swine flu, but authorities now say the disease is no worse than regular seasonal flu and people should act accordingly.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images


Great moments in congressional liaison work

Methinks Pakistan's president needs to fire his PR advisors:

The first audience for the pitch was Congress, as President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan met privately for 90 minutes with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. [...]

Mr. Zardari’s presentation ... left some members confused and disappointed, according to a person who attended the meeting. He said little about how the Pakistani government planned to regain momentum in the fight against the militants. And when he asked for financial assistance, he likened it to the government’s bailout of the troubled insurance giant, American International Group.