- - Wednesday, October 10, 2012


BRUSSELS — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Wednesday the NATO coalition has turned an important corner in Afghanistan and has come too far and spilled too much blood to let insider attacks or anything else undermine the mission there.

While he and other ministers refused to provide details of the expected withdrawal of troops in the coming two years, he said that from mid-2013 onward, the United States and its allies will operate from fewer bases and the flow of military supplies and materiel out of Afghanistan will begin to grow.

Mr. Panetta also used his time during the closed session of the NATO conference here Wednesday to urge the other defense ministers to help fill the shortfall of military training teams in Afghanistan.

The teams, he said, are critical to building the capabilities of the Afghan forces so they can take control of their country’s security by the end of 2014.


Turkey’s long effort to join EU deferred

BRUSSELS — Turkey’s longtime goal of joining the European Union seems, like a mirage in the desert, to fade farther into the distance as time goes by.

The goal receded a little further Wednesday as the EU issued a report that was scathing toward Turkey’s regard for fundamental rights and freedom of expression — bedrock values for any country wishing to join the European club.

Turkey slammed the report, calling it a biased attempt by the crisis-burdened EU to delay Turkish membership.

The EU’s criticism came in a document produced by its executive branch, the European Commission, that assessed the progress and challenges facing would-be EU members.

In customary EU fashion, the report said each country had made significant accomplishments but has more work to do.


Turkey intercepts Syrian plane

ANKARA — Turkish jets on Wednesday forced a Syrian passenger plane to land at Ankara airport on suspicion that it might be carrying weapons, officials and news reports said.

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