JFP News 11/16: Two Candles in Congress Against the Siege of Gaza
Just Foreign Policy News
December 16, 2009
Two Candles in Congress Against the Siege of Gaza
This week Members of the House are considering two actions that could have a real impact in improving living conditions for Palestinians on the ground. Reps. McDermott and Ellison are circulating a letter that calls on President Obama to press for an easing in the Israeli blockade of Gaza by making it easier for Palestinians, aid workers, and journalists to enter and leave Gaza, and by improving the access of Palestinian civilians to necessities such as clean water, food, fuel and medicine. Reps. Moran and Inglis are circulating a letter that focuses on the right of university students from Gaza to complete their studies.
Ten Ways You Can Tell Which Side the US Government is On With Regard to the Coup in Honduras
Mark Weisbrot reviews the timeline of a coup praised with faint damnation by the US government.
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1) The Obama administration is refusing to acknowledge an offer by the leadership of the Taliban in early December to give "legal guarantees" that it will not allow Afghanistan to be used for attacks on other countries, writes Gareth Porter for Inter Press Service. The Taliban is interpreting the Obama administration's position as rejection of its offer, Porter says.
2) On Pakistan, Senator McCain appears slightly to the left of President Obama, writes Robert Dreyfus for The Nation. Asked about threats from the Obama administration to bombard Quetta in pursuit of the Taliban's leadership, McCain expressed continuing opposition to a US strike into Pakistan, preferring to let Pakistan handle it.
3) The U.S. military command has shifted and intensified the mission of clandestine special operations forces in Afghanistan, targeting key figures within the Taliban, rather than almost exclusively hunting Al Qaeda leaders, Julian Barnes reports in the Los Angeles Times. The shift could be controversial among some administration officials and lawmakers who want the U.S. military to focus primarily on the long-term fight against terrorism and on eradicating Al Qaeda, Barnes says. Senior military leaders, however, believe that rolling back Taliban gains has become the overriding short-term priority.
4) Admiral Mullen says he's confident that most of the 30,000 additional troops that are being sent to Afghanistan will be there by August, AP reports. On Monday, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the second-highest ranking U.S. general in Afghanistan, said the rapid escalation of American troops would take longer than expected, possibly as long as 11 months.
5) Secretary of State Clinton said the Administration will include the cost of the military surge in Afghanistan as part of its budget request next year, Reuters reports. But key lawmakers have said the Obama administration will have to make an emergency funding request in the form of a "supplemental" spending bill to cover the additional cost, thus forcing lawmakers to vote directly on whether to pay for the Afghan troop buildup. Lawmakers could try to tie conditions to the money, such as adding specific timetables for withdrawing troops.
6) Pakistani President Zardari has resisted an appeal from President Obama for a rapid expansion of Pakistani military operations in tribal areas and has called on the US to intervene more forcefully with India, the Washington Post reports. A statement by an Pakistani intelligence officials suggested that the "Kandahari Taliban" of Mullah Omar was not on the Pakistani list of targets.
7) Britain has acted to increase pressure on Israel over its West Bank settlements by advising UK supermarkets on how to distinguish between foods from the settlements and Palestinian-manufactured goods, the Guardian reports. The government's move "is bound to increase the prospects of a consumer boycott" of products from the settlements, the Guardian says.
8) Iran's foreign minister said his country was willing to exchange most of its uranium for processed nuclear fuel from abroad - as the UN has proposed - but only according to a timetable that Western powers appear to have already rejected, the New York Times reports. Foreign Minister Mottaki said Iran would agree to hand over 400 kilograms, or 882 pounds, of uranium initially - about a third of the amount proposed in a draft agreement reached under UN auspices in October - in exchange for an equivalent amount of enriched material to fuel a medical research reactor, according to Iranian news agencies. The remainder of the material would be traded over "several years." A senior Obama administration official said the US would insist the uranium be sent in one batch.
9) Honduran police promised to thoroughly investigate the killing of a gay rights activist who joined in protests against the coup that ousted President Zelaya, AP reports. The anti-coup National Resistance Front said gunmen shot Walter Trochez on Sunday. The front claimed that Trochez, was often harassed and threatened by police and soldiers because of his activism on behalf of homosexuals. the International Observatory on the Human Rights Situation said Trochez was briefly kidnapped Dec. 4 by men who threatened to kill Trochez because of his participation in the anti-coup movement.
10) Prime Minister Hatoyama announced that he would put off a decision on implementing a US agreement concerning the Futenma base until sometime next year, the New York Times reports. Hatoyama seemed to suggest that he wanted a new site for the base besides Camp Schwab, something that the Obama administration has resisted. In January, the city of Nago, where Camp Schwab is located, will hold a mayoral election. The leading candidate has vowed to reverse the city's decision to accept the air base, making it harder to go back to the 2006 agreement.
1) U.S. Silent About Taliban Guarantee Offer on al Qaeda
Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service, Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Washington - The Barack Obama administration is refusing to acknowledge an offer by the leadership of the Taliban in early December to give "legal guarantees" that it will not allow Afghanistan to be used for attacks on other countries.
The administration's silence on the offer, despite a public statement by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton expressing skepticism about any Taliban offer to separate itself from al Qaeda, effectively leaves the door open to negotiating a deal with the Taliban based on such a proposal.
The Taliban, however, has chosen to interpret the Obama administration's position as one of rejection of its offer.
The Taliban offer, included in a statement dated Dec. 4 and e-mailed to news organizations the following day, said the organization has "no agenda of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries and is ready to give legal guarantees if foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan".
The statement did not mention al Qaeda by name or elaborate on what was meant by "legal guarantees" against such "meddling", but it was an obvious response to past U.S. insistence that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is necessary to prevent al Qaeda from having a safe haven in Afghanistan once again.
It suggested that the Taliban is interested in negotiating an agreement with the United States involving a public Taliban renunciation of ties with al Qaeda, along with some undefined arrangements to enforce a ban al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan in return for a commitment to a timetable for withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.
The following day, asked by ABC News "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos about possible negotiations with "high level" Taliban leaders, Clinton said, "We don't know yet." But then she made the same argument the unnamed U.S. official had made to Gopal on Saturday. "[W]e asked Mullah Omar to give up bin Laden before he went into Afghanistan after 9/11," Clinton said, "and he wouldn't do it. I don't know why we think he would have changed by now."
In the same ABC interview, Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that the Taliban would not be willing to negotiate on U.S. terms until after their "momentum" had been stopped. "I think that the likelihood of the leadership of the Taliban, or senior leaders, being willing to accept the conditions Secretary Clinton just talked about," Gates said, "depends in the first instance on reversing their momentum right now, and putting them in a position where they suddenly begin to realize that they're likely to lose."
In a statement issued two days after the Clinton-Gates appearance on ABC, the Taliban leadership, which now calls itself "Mujahideen", posted another statement saying that what it called its "proposal" had been rejected by the United States.
The statement said, in part, "Washington turns down the constructive proposal of the leadership of Mujahideen," and repeated its pledge to "ensure that the next government of the Muhajideen will not meddle in the internal affairs of other countries including the neighbors if the foreign troops pull out of Afghanistan."
The fact that both the State Department and the NSC are now maintaining silence on the offer rather than repeating the Clinton-Gates expression of skepticism strongly suggests that the White House does not want to close the door publicly to negotiations with the Taliban linking troop withdrawal to renunciation of ties with al Qaeda, among other issues.
Last month, an even more explicit link between U.S. troop withdrawal and a severing by the Taliban of its ties with al Qaeda was made by a U.S. diplomat in Kabul.
In an article published Nov. 11, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin, who was then visiting Kabul, quoted an unnamed U.S. official as saying, "If the Taliban made clear to us that they have broken with al Qaeda and that their own objectives were nonviolent and political - however abhorrent to us - we wouldn't be keeping 68,000-plus troops here."
That statement reflected an obvious willingness to entertain a negotiated settlement under which U.S. troops would be withdrawn and the Taliban would break with al Qaeda.
The Taliban began indicating it openness to negotiations with the United States and NATO in September 2007. But it began to hint publicly at its willingness to separate itself from al Qaeda in return for a troop withdrawal only three months ago.
Taliban leader Mullah Omar's message for Eid al-Fitr in mid-September assured "all countries" that a Taliban state "will not extend its hand to jeopardize others, as it itself does not allow others to jeopardize us... Our goal is to gain independence of the country and establish a just Islamic system there."
But the insurgent leadership has also emphasized that negotiations will depend on the U.S. willingness to withdraw troops. In anticipation of Obama's announcement of a new U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar issued a 3,000-word statement Nov. 25 which said, "The people of Afghanistan will not agree to negotiations which prolongs and legitimizes the invader's military presence in our beloved country."
"The invading Americans want Mujahidin to surrender under the pretext of negotiation," it said.
That implied that the Taliban would negotiate if the U.S. did not insist on the acceptance of a U.S. military presence in the country.
The day after the Taliban proposal to Washington, Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a public plea to the United States to engage in direct negotiations with the Taliban leadership.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Karzai said there is an "urgent need" for negotiations with the Taliban, and made it clear that the Obama administration had opposed such talks.
2) McCain Rejects Quetta Attack
Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation, 12/16/2009 @ 11:33am
On Pakistan, at least, Senator John McCain appears slightly to the left of Barack Obama. Just as it was during the 2008 presidential campaign. Yesterday, during his appearance at the Heritage Foundation to speak about the war in Afghanistan, I asked McCain about threats emanating from the Obama administration to bombard Quetta in pursuit of the Taliban's leadership.
The question has echoes of 2008. Back then, in the second presidential campaign debate, you'll remember, Obama declared forthrightly that he would be prepared, if elected president, to pursue the bad guys across the border into Pakistan, regardless of that little thing called Pakistani sovereignty - and McCain was opposed. (He called Obama's idea "remarkable," shaking his head, then.)
Yesterday, during McCain's Heritage Foundation event, I asked the senator about reports that the administration was planning to strike Quetta. His answer was a bit long-winded, but clearly McCain expressed continuing opposition to a US strike into Pakistan, preferring instead to let Pakistan handle it. Here's the transcript:
QUESTION I'm Bob Dreyfuss from The Nation. During the campaign, you and Senator Obama disagreed about the idea of taking the war across the border into Pakistan. He suggested that was a good idea, and you expressed some concern about taking the war into an allied country. Now there's a lot of talk about going after the Taliban shura in Quetta., ... putting pressure on the Pakistanis but also threatening to do it ourselves with drone attacks or other attacks. Do you think that's a good or a bad idea?
MCCAIN I think the best idea is to get our Pakistani friends and allies to help out in that effort, number one. And number two, as we all know, it's no secret, that there are Predator, across-the-border operations taking place against specific targets, with the agreement - or maybe I shouldn't use the word 'agreement' - with the silence of the Pakistani government concerning that. Third, I would like to point out that if we were having this conversation about eight or nine months ago, there was enormous question about the capability and commitment of Pakistan, indeed, about the very stability of the Pakistani government. They will continue to have difficulties, but the capability of the Pakistani miitary has far exceeded most expectations, their operations into Waziristan and other areas. In fact, there was a time a month ago that they were complaining that we weren't doing enough on the Afghan side of the border. So I still believe that an outright US military attack into Pakistan would probably arouse already seriously latent - in some cases, not so latent - anti-American sentiment. And I don't think we have exhausted the option of the Pakistani military carrying out this mission over time.
However, even McCain acknowledged, in his talk yesterday, that a crucial part of the US effort in AfPak is diplomatic, something that Obama has de-emphasized in recent speeches. McCain said that it is critical to involve Afghanistan's neighbors in search of a solution. "No one disputes that Afghanistan's neighbors will have influence in Afghanistan," he said. "The question is, what kind?" The United States, said McCain, has to broker a deal for regional cooperation to help stabilize Afghanistan.
3) Elite Troops Shift Focus To Taliban
U.S. steps up special operations mission in Afghanistan
Under the shift in strategy, the teams now focus on targeting key Taliban figures rather than mainly hunting Al Qaeda leaders and have increased the number of raids they conduct, officials say.
Julian E. Barnes, Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2009
Washington - The U.S. military command has quietly shifted and intensified the mission of clandestine special operations forces in Afghanistan, senior officials said, targeting key figures within the Taliban, rather than almost exclusively hunting Al Qaeda leaders.
As a result of orders from Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and allied commander in Afghanistan, the special operations teams are focusing more on killing militants, capturing them or, whenever possible, persuading them to turn against the Taliban-led insurgency.
The number of raids carried out by such units as the Army's Delta Force and Navy's SEAL Team Six in Afghanistan has more than quadrupled in recent months. The teams carried out 90 raids in November, U.S. officials said, compared with 20 in May. U.S. special operations forces primarily conduct missions in eastern and southern Afghanistan.
The numbers reflect the evolving strategy and increased pressure on U.S. military leaders to show swift results against the Taliban.
The move marks the first major change in mission for the nation's most elite military units since they were sent to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. It comes as the Taliban has tightened its grip on key parts of Afghanistan, where only a few dozen Al Qaeda operatives are thought to remain.
The shift could be controversial among some administration officials and lawmakers who want the U.S. military to focus primarily on the long-term fight against terrorism and on eradicating Al Qaeda. Senior military leaders, however, believe that rolling back Taliban gains has become the overriding short-term priority.
"This is Gen. McChrystal's play," said a senior U.S. official familiar with the strategy, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They have to show they can reverse momentum. He has to show he is making headway."
4) Mullen: Most Of Surge Troops Will Arrive By August
Anne Gearan, Associated Press, Tuesday, December 15, 2009; 4:10 PM http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/15/AR2009121500744.html
Kabul - The top U.S. military officer said Tuesday that he's confident that most of the 30,000 additional troops that are being sent to Afghanistan will be there by August.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters traveling with him in Afghanistan that the first 16,000 troops who already have orders will be in on schedule.
On Monday, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the second-highest ranking U.S. general in Afghanistan, said the rapid escalation of American troops would take longer than expected, possibly as long as 11 months. Rodriguez blamed the delay on the logistical challenges the military faces in bringing in so many forces so quickly.
But Mullen said that he's "reasonably confident" the logistics can be made to work, although "I want a plan B because life doesn't always work out."
He said the vast majority of troops in the surge ordered by President Barack Obama should be in Afghanistan by August.
5) Clinton: Cost Of Afghan Surge To Be In U.S. Budget
Susan Cornwell, Reuters, Tuesday, December 15, 2009; 2:40 PM http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/15/AR2009121502896.html
Washington - The Obama administration will include the cost of the military surge in Afghanistan as part of its budget request next year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.
Rolling the added expense into the regular U.S. government budget instead of an emergency funding request might be an easier way for the administration to get Congress to approve more money for Obama's expansion of the increasingly unpopular war.
But some key lawmakers have said the Obama administration will have to make an emergency funding request in the form of a "supplemental" spending bill to cover the additional cost, thus forcing lawmakers to vote directly on whether to pay for the Afghan troop buildup.
Obama earlier this month announced plans to rush 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan next year to join the roughly 68,000 already there fighting a war that began in 2001.
"It's going to be in the budget," Clinton told reporters as she left a briefing with members of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill. "The president is committed to making it fully accounted for."
The administration is not expected to make its next budget request until early next year, probably February, and the money might not be approved until months later. The coming budget request will be for fiscal 2011, which starts on October 1, 2010.
Clinton said she did not know how much the Afghan surge would cost.
Pentagon officials have estimated the Afghan surge would cost $30 billion to $35 billion. Pentagon officials have suggested they would likely need an emergency supplemental to pay for it, on top of $130 billion authorized for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for the fiscal year that began on October 1.
Representative John Murtha, chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee with authority over the Pentagon's budget, said earlier this month Congress would have to approve a war funding bill of at least $40 billion in the coming months, to pay for Obama's troop hike in Afghanistan.
In the Senate, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, also said he expected the administration would have to request emergency funding for more troops.
Congress is considered unlikely to block funding for the troop surge, even though many of Obama's fellow Democrats - Murtha and Levin among them - are skeptical of the escalation. But lawmakers could try to tie conditions to the money, such as adding specific timetables for withdrawing troops.
6) Pakistan's Zardari Resists U.S. Timeline For Fighting Insurgents
Karen DeYoung and Griff Witte, Washington Post, December 16, 2009; A10 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/15/AR2009121504774.html
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has resisted a direct appeal from President Obama for a rapid expansion of Pakistani military operations in tribal areas and has called on the United States to speed up military assistance to Pakistani forces and to intervene more forcefully with India, its traditional adversary.
In a written response to a letter from Obama late last month, Zardari said his government was determined to take action against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and allied insurgent groups attacking U.S. forces in Afghanistan from the border area inside Pakistan. But, he said, Pakistan's efforts would be based on its own timeline and operational needs.
The message was reinforced Monday by Pakistan's military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, who told Gen. David H. Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command, that the United States should not expect "a major operation in North Waziristan" in the coming months, according to a senior U.S. defense official. North Waziristan, one of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas on the Afghan border, is a sanctuary for the Afghan Taliban.
The long-term success of Obama's new Afghanistan strategy depends on Pakistan moving forcefully against Taliban havens in the FATA and Baluchistan. U.S. ground troops are prohibited from operating inside Pakistan. To bolster Pakistan's government and military, the administration proposed, and Congress approved, a tripling in economic and development assistance and increased military aid.
In return, the United States wants Pakistan to "move on our mutual interests, which includes the Haqqani network and includes the Taliban in Pakistan," Vice President Biden said Tuesday in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." His reference was to the North Waziristan-based faction led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son, Siraj, and the main Afghan Taliban organization, which are fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Pakistani counterinsurgency operations this year have primarily targeted separate but allied groups - the Pakistani Taliban based in South Waziristan and operating in the Swat Valley region - whose attacks are directed toward Pakistani government targets.
"We're committed to this war, but we'll fight it on our terms. . . . We will prioritize targets based on our interests. We don't want them to be dictated to us," a Pakistani intelligence official said. He added: "The Pakistani Taliban is the clear and present danger. They are what matters most. Once we are done with them, we will go after the Haqqani network."
7) UK issues new guidance on labelling of food from illegal West Bank settlements
Stickers could read 'Israeli settlement produce' , but move is not a boycott, says Foreign Office
Ian Black and Rory McCarthy, Guardian, Thursday 10 December 2009 19.39 GMT http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/10/guidance-labelling-food-israeli-settlements
Britain has acted to increase pressure on Israel over its West Bank settlements by advising UK supermarkets on how to distinguish between foods from the settlements and Palestinian-manufactured goods.
The government's move falls short of a legal requirement but is bound to increase the prospects of a consumer boycott of products from those territories. Israeli officials and settler leaders were tonight highly critical of the decision.
Until now, food has been simply labelled "Produce of the West Bank", but the new, voluntary guidance issued by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), says labels could give more precise information, like "Israeli settlement produce" or "Palestinian produce".
Nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which were conquered in the 1967 war. The British government and the EU have repeatedly said Israel's settlement project is an "obstacle to peace" in the Middle East.
EU law already requires a distinction to be made between goods originating in Israel and those from the occupied territories, though pro-Palestinian campaigners say this is not always observed.
Separately, Defra said that traders would be committing an offence if they did declare produce from the occupied territories as "Produce of Israel".
Goods from inside Israel's 1967 borders are entitled to a preferential rate of import duty under an agreement with the EU. Palestinian goods from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem also enjoy duty-free or reduced-tariff treatment. Settlement products fall outside these two categories.
The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, welcomed the public clarification that marking produce from illegal settlements on occupied territory as "produce of Israel" was illegal, but said the government should have gone further.
Barbara Stocking, Oxfam's chief executive, said: "We support the right of consumers to know the origin of the products they purchase. Trade with Israeli settlements - which are illegal under international law - contributes to their economic viability and serves to legitimise them. It is also clear from our development work in West Bank communities that settlements have led to the denial of rights and create poverty for many Palestinians."
8) Iran Avows Willingness to Swap Some Uranium
Robert F. Worth, New York Times, December 13, 2009
Beirut, Lebanon - Iran's foreign minister said Saturday that his country was willing to exchange most of its uranium for processed nuclear fuel from abroad - as the United Nations has proposed - but only according to a timetable that Western powers appear to have already rejected.
The statement by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki came just days before a scheduled meeting of the United States and its allies to discuss possible new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program - and may be aimed at trying to divide them, analysts said.
Mr. Mottaki said Iran would agree to hand over 400 kilograms, or 882 pounds, of uranium initially - about a third of the amount proposed in a draft agreement reached under United Nations auspices in October - in exchange for an equivalent amount of enriched material to fuel a medical research reactor, according to Iranian news agencies. The remainder of the material would be traded over "several years."
A senior Obama administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Saturday that the Iranian statement did not appear to be consistent with the agreement proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations body, in consultation with the United States, Russia and France.
"The terms of that agreement," the administration official said, "call for Iran to send 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium to Russia in one batch, where it would be further enriched and then sent to France for fabrication into fuel assemblies. We remain committed to these terms."
9) Rights activist who protested Honduras coup killed
Freddy Cuevas, AP, Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tegucigalpa, Honduras - Honduran police promised to thoroughly investigate the killing of a gay rights activist who joined in protests against the June coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
The anti-coup National Resistance Front said gunmen in a car shot Walter Trochez on Sunday as he walked in downtown Tegucigalpa. Friends rushed him to a hospital, where he died. "Trochez was an active militant in the resistance and an example of the fight against the dictatorship," the group said in a statement released on the day the victim was buried.
The front, which until recently staged daily protests to demand Zelaya's restoration to the presidency, blamed the attack "on the repressive forces that the oligarchy uses to stop the demands of the Honduran people for liberty and democracy."
The front claimed that Trochez, 27, was often harassed and threatened by police and soldiers because of his activism on behalf of homosexuals.
A Honduran rights group said Trochez was briefly kidnapped Dec. 4 by four masked men who beat him. The assailants threatened to kill Trochez because of his participation in the anti-coup movement, the International Observatory on the Human Rights Situation said.
10) Japan Delays Decision On Moving U.S. Marine Base
Martin Fackler, New York Times, December 16, 2009
Tokyo - Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's postponement of a decision on relocating an American military base on Okinawa may be the product of domestic political considerations as much as deeply held foreign policy principles, analysts here said on Tuesday. But it promises to put new pressures on Japan's already strained ties with the United States, its closest ally.
The Obama administration had pressed Mr. Hatoyama's government to make a quick decision on whether to carry out a 2006 agreement between Washington and Tokyo to relocate the base, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, to a less populated part of Okinawa. On Tuesday, however, he announced that he would put off that decision until sometime next year, saying that members of his governing coalition would set up a working group to discuss the current plan and other possible sites for the base.
On Tuesday evening, Mr. Hatoyama seemed to suggest that he wanted a new site for the base, something that the Obama administration has resisted. "I want to make a situation where we can search for a place other than Henoko, and if possible select it," Mr. Hatoyama told reporters, referring to the site of another base on Okinawa, Camp Schwab.
The row over the base has underscored the Obama administration's difficulties in finding common ground with Mr. Hatoyama's slightly left-leaning Democratic Party government, which ended a half-century of governing by the pro-American Liberal Democrats when it came to power in September. Mr. Hatoyama has also seemed to pull away from Washington by allowing the Japanese Navy's mission of refueling American warships in the Indian Ocean to end and telling Asian leaders that Japan has been overly reliant on the United States.
Some analysts have warned that the delay will only make a difficult political decision even harder for Mr. Hatoyama. In January, the city of Nago, where Camp Schwab is located, will hold a mayoral election. The leading candidate has vowed to reverse the city's decision to accept the air base, making it harder to go back to the 2006 agreement.
Mr. Hatoyama has sought to answer calls from Okinawans to lighten the burden of American forces on their island, where many of the 50,000 American military personnel in Japan are based. But the Obama administration has asked that the 2006 deal not be changed, because doing so could fray a larger, more complex agreement to relocate 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2014.
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