12/29/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's First Foreign Policy Test

President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on deploying additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan -- and, potentially, taking military action in Pakistan -- as part of a renewed focus on a neglected war against Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies. When he takes the oath of office Jan. 20, he'll inherit a far different regional picture in South Asia than his campaign could have anticipated.

Over the past several weeks, developments in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India pose new challenges for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. The Karzai government in Kabul has dramatically moved to bring the war to a conclusion -- announcing the pursuit of far-reaching negotiations with the Taliban-led insurgency and calling, for the first time, for a U.S. timetable for withdrawal.

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