Voice

Will Francois Hollande sour the NATO summit?

France's Socialists want the country's forces out of Afghanistan tout suite, and they want a bigger say in future NATO decisionmaking. Via Reuters:

France's Socialists will pull all combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, a year ahead of an accelerated withdrawal planned by the government, and has already discussed this with Britain and the United States, their chief defense adviser says.

In an interview, Jean-Yves Le Drian, chief defense aide to Socialist presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande, also told Reuters France would press for a review of long-standing demands for a bigger say in the U.S.-led NATO alliance's integrated military command structure....

If Hollande wins the election that takes place in two rounds on April 22 and May 6, one of his first big international dates will be the successive summits of G8 and NATO leaders on May 18 and 20 respectively.

According to NATO's latest figures, France has almost 3,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, making it the fifth largest contributor (behind the United States, the U.K., Germany and Italy).  

The Multilateralist

India prepares WTO offensive against the United States

News reports today suggest that India will likely bring two new cases against the United States at the World Trade Organization. The first relates to the cost of U.S. work visas, which India claims discriminate against Indian information technology firms. The second likely case charges that a U.S. import duty on steel pipes violates international trade rules. The Indian moves come just a few weeks after the United States filed a complaint based on Indian poultry restrictions (India insists that the restrictions are based on health concerns). According to WTO data, these new cases would make India a country that complains to the organization as often as it responds to complaints.