The Cable

Holbrooke gears up for travel to Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and France

Special representative Richard Holbrooke is racking up those frequent-flyer miles. After he gets back from London today, he has less than a week before he heads off to Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and France.

In Abu Dhabi, Holbrooke will attend an international meeting of special representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan hosted by the UAE, which will include both Af-Pak foreign ministers, his spokesperson tells The Cable.

"In Pakistan, he will call on leadership, continue dialogue, and look for ways we can emphasis Pakistan assistance and address concerns. In Afghanistan, he will help prepare for the London ministerial, focus on things including [Afghan National Security Forces] training. On way back, he will consult with French government regarding the London ministerial and report to the secretary," the spokesman said, referring to an international conference on Afghanistan set for Jan. 28.

There's a great chance that a host of other issues will also come up on his trip. For example, Holbrooke may want to weigh in on the ongoing mess surrounding the formation of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's cabinet, as explained in this Reuters article.

In Pakistan, Holbrooke might want to address the issue of Pakistan's delay of hundreds of visas for American officials and contractors. And according to this report, the Pakistanis will definitely want to talk about new U.S. visa procedures in the wake of the underwear bomber incident. The procedures affect 14 countries only, one of them is Pakistan.

Pakistani sources told The Cable that Holbrooke will meet with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The sources also claimed that Defense Secretary Robert Gates was on his way to Pakistan as well, although Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell denied that Gates is planning to go there. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen was in Pakistan just last month.

As for the French, Holbrooke could press them to increase their commitment in Afghanistan, as he apparently did with Germany today. Both France and Germany have declined to commit more troops, but the London conference would be the time that they could offer whatever increased resources they are willing to spare.

"This is in Germany's interest as much as ours ... But will the Germans honor this common interest?," Holbrooke said to the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

"I am not one to submit to peer pressure," responded German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. "I also don't need direction from the USA to form my opinion."

AFP/Getty Images

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