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Obama agenda: Afghanistan meeting

The Wall Street Journal previews today's White House meeting on Afghanistan. "The White House unexpectedly decided to review its strategy in Afghanistan after a series of recent setbacks in the war, including allegations of fraud following last month's presidential elections and surging violence throughout the country. It begins just days after Gen. McChrystal submitted his request for as many as 40,000 additional troops to the Pentagon. Some in the administration, notably Mr. Biden, have argued for a smaller military footprint and a tighter focus on counterterrorism as the best way forward."

The LA Times: "The vice president's plan: Scale back the overall American military footprint in Afghanistan, drop the mission of rescuing the country from the Taliban, focus on strikes against Al Qaeda along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border -- the real threat to U.S. national security -- using special forces and Predator missile attacks."

With Biden's desire for a tighter focus on counterterrorism, the Washington Post front-pages, "U.S. and international intelligence officials say that improved recruitment of spies inside the al-Qaeda network, along with increased use of targeted airstrikes and enhanced assistance from cooperative governments, has significantly reduced the terrorist organization's effectiveness."

USA Today writes that the U.S. is having difficulties with the Afghan military and police forces. "After nearly eight years of war, Afghanistan's security forces are still plagued by corruption, high levels of absenteeism, a lack of proper training and an excessive dependence on their American counterparts, U.S. commanders and troops in the field say."

Iran is not helping its case about the secret nuclear facility by admitting it built in a place that would provide it maximum security from outside attack. Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi's statement 'This site is at the base of a mountain and was selected on purpose in a place that would be protected against aerial attack. That's why the site was chosen adjacent to a military site,'' Salehi said. ''It was intended to safeguard our nuclear facilities and reduce the cost of an active defense system. If we had chosen another site, we would have had to set up another aerial defense system.''

More from the Wall Street Journal: "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has hinted Iran has other nuclear sites that it hasn't disclosed to the IAEA. IAEA officials will have their eyes and ears open for hints of such sites during interviews with personnel at the site near the holy city of Qom, and in documents there. They need Iranian permission to enter any facility unless there is hard evidence of nuclear material present. Mr. Salehi said Iran won't negotiate its right to develop nuclear energy. "But we can discuss about disarmament, we can discuss about nonproliferation and other general issues," he said, according to Reuters. "The new site is part of our rights, and there is no need to discuss."

Meanwhile, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Ray Odierno, "said Tuesday that he could reduce American forces to 50,000 troops even before the end of next summer if the expected January elections in Iraq went smoothly," the New York Times says.