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US Senate Confirms Petraeus to Lead Afghan War

US Gen David Petraeus appears before the US Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing to become the head of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan on Capitol Hill, 29 Jun 2010

The U.S. Senate has confirmed General David Petraeus as the next commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Lawmakers voted unanimously in support of Petraeus's nomination Wednesday. He replaces General Stanley McChrystal, who resigned last week after he and his aides made disparaging remarks about Obama administration officials.

Petraeus, who has been head of U.S. Central Command, is widely credited for helping turn around the war in Iraq by implementing a counter-insurgency strategy that helped lay the framework for the current effort in Afghanistan.

He has warned that troops face an "industrial strength" Taliban insurgency while having to train Afghan forces and build up local governance.

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to Kabul and urged Afghan leaders to do more to improve governance and enforce the rule of law in Afghanistan as its government tries to curtail corruption.

Holder met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other top officials in the first trip to Afghanistan by a U.S. attorney general.

Holder said the United States is committed to working with Afghanistan to achieve long-term stability by following the rule of law. He said fighting corruption was a top priority for the Obama administration. Holder also said all Afghans should have access to a fair, efficient and transparent judicial system.

On Monday, U.S. Representative Nita Lowey, the chair of the House subcommittee for foreign aid, said she was blocking nearly $4 billion dollars in funding for Afghanistan following media reports that large amounts of U.S. aid were being diverted by Afghan officials and taken out of the country.

Afghan Finance Minister Mohammad Omar Zakhailwal rejected the allegations Wednesday and instead blamed corruption on foreign contractors.

Also Wednesday, British Foreign Minister Liam Fox warned against the premature withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan. He said such a move would destabilize Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan and allow the region to remain a sanctuary for Islamist extremists.

During a speech in London, Fox also said violence in Afghanistan was likely to increase in the coming months.

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