In brief: Donors pledge $16 billion to aid Afghanistan as troops leave
TOKYO – International donors pledged $16 billion today in badly needed development aid for Afghanistan over the next four years when most foreign troops will leave as Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged the international community not to abandon his country.
The major donors’ conference, attended by about 70 countries and organizations, is aimed at setting aid levels for the crucial period through and beyond 2014, when most NATO-led foreign combat troops will leave and the war-torn country will assume responsibility for most of its own security.
Japanese foreign minister and U.S. officials traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the donors have made $16 billion available through 2015, which would be in line with the nearly $4 billion per year that the Japanese co-hosts had said they were hoping to achieve during the one-day conference.
Thousands of Mexicans protest recent election results in capital
MEXICO CITY – Tens of thousands of people marched in Mexico’s capital on Saturday to protest Enrique Pena Nieto’s apparent win in the country’s presidential election, accusing his party of buying votes.
The protesters were angered by allegations that Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party gave out bags of groceries, pre-paid gift cards and other goods to voters ahead of July 1 national elections. Mexico City officials put the size of the crowd that reached its central Zocalo plaza at 50,000.
Pena Nieto won the July 1 election by 6.6 percentage points, according to the official count, bringing the PRI back to power after 12 years in opposition. The final vote count must be certified in September by the Federal Electoral Tribunal.
Strait of Hormuz will be blocked if interests threatened, Iran says
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran will block the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the passageway through which a fifth of the world’s oil flows, if its interests are seriously threatened, a senior Iranian military commander warned Saturday.
“We do have a plan to close the Strait of Hormuz,” state media quoted Gen. Hasan Firouzabadi as saying Saturday. “A Shiite nation (Iran) acts reasonably and would not approve interruption of a waterway … unless our interests are seriously threatened.”
The comments by Firouzabadi, the chairman of Iran’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, come days after the European Union enforced a total oil embargo against Iran for its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program.