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Republican Majority Could Bear Heavily on Foreign Policy

A new balance of power in the U.S. Congress could have a significant impact on international issues.

President Barack Obama has said he would like to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the middle of next year, if battlefield conditions allow. Analysts say a shift toward Republicans in Congress could lead to greater support for the Afghan war in the short term. It could also create conflict if Democrats press for the beginning of a withdrawal next year.

The Republican agenda also includes a pledge to remain tough on terrorism and to press for a more comprehensive missile defense system. Republican gains in the House and Senate could also lend weight to critics' charges that the president has not been tough enough on Iran and its potential development of a nuclear weapon.

Gains for the Republicans could also allow conservatives to press Mr. Obama to be more assertive on disagreements with Russia and China. It could complicate efforts to ratify a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia that expired last year. Critics say its ratification would weaken U.S. defenses, a notion Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats reject.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.