World briefs: Some U.S. troops likely to stay in Afghanistan

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WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon's top civilian and military officials Sunday expressed expectations, even a desire, that U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan after the NATO mission ends in December 2014, although they emphasized that no decision had been made.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. would sustain a strategic partnership with Afghanistan, and cited a decision by NATO heads of state during a summit meeting in Chicago that long-term support for Kabul would include military assistance.

During joint appearances on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" and the CNN program "State of the Union," Mr. Panetta and Mr. Dempsey sought to define and defend an 11-year-old mission in Afghanistan whose objectives have become fuzzy in the minds of many Americans, just as President Barack Obama weighs how rapidly to withdraw the remaining troops and considers how many to propose leaving there after 2014.

Any U.S. troop presence after the conclusion of the NATO mandate requires agreement between Kabul and Washington.

India toughens laws

NEW DELHI -- India dramatically tightened its laws on sexual assault and trafficking Sunday, with a far-reaching package of measures rushed through to satisfy public opinion in the wake of the horrific gang rape and murder of a young woman in New Delhi in December.

The new measures impose much stricter penalties for a range of crimes. Some women's groups complained that the government had not gone far enough, particularly because it failed to outlaw marital rape and deal with the legal impunity enjoyed by members of the armed forces.

U.S.-Mexico tomato war

WASHINGTON -- A proposed agreement on fresh tomatoes imported from Mexico would strengthen anti-dumping enforcement and reset minimum wholesale prices, the Commerce Department said.

The agreement with Mexico's tomato industry would suspend an investigation initiated after Florida tomato growers complained that Mexican producers were selling fresh tomatoes for less than the production cost. The proposal would replace a pact that's been in place for 16 years.

Barclays leaders to exit

LONDON -- Finance director Chris Lucas and general counsel Mark Harding are stepping down from scandal-hit British bank Barclays, it said Sunday, once successors have been found.

Mr. Lucas -- one of several past and present Barclays staff being investigated over whether the bank broke the rules when it took big cash infusions from Qatar's sovereign wealth fund in 2008 -- did not disclose reasons for his departure.

More bodies found

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's state-owned oil company says it has found two more bodies amid the rubble of a headquarters building damaged by a still-unexplained blast. The find raises the death toll of Thursday's explosion to 35 people.

Officials still have not given any cause for the explosion, though they have said they suspect it was an accident. Rescuers had initially concluded their search Friday but resumed operations when they suspected more bodies were in the rubble.

-- Compiled from news services



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