Must-Reads from Around the World: March 13, 2012

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Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images

Afghan demonstrators burn an effigy of US President Barack Obama in a fire during a demonstration in Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province on March 13, 2012

Shattered Calm  — An Afghan government delegation came under fire by Taliban militants in the early hours of Tuesday as they visited the village where a U.S. soldier is accused of killing 16 civilians. The Washington Post reports that the group, which included two brothers of President Hamid Karzai and senior defence officials, was unharmed although one Afghan solider assigned to protect the delegation was killed in the attack. The shooting and subsequent protests raises questions of whether the U.S. should accelerate the withdrawal of troops; The New York Times examines the exit strategy and TIME’s Mark Thompson delves into the U.S. role in Afghanistan.

Routing Trade — The Times of India reports on New Delhi’s renewed push for a long-stalled transportation network through Iran into Central Asia. The International North-South Corridor would connect ports on India’s west coast to Iran and then overland to Russia, cutting current journey times via the Suez Canal from up to 60 days down to 30. India could build the Iranian infrastructure to avoid U.S.-imposed sanctions on buying Iranian oil, “which serves economic and strategic interests of all states concerned,” the newspaper notes.

Special Relationship  The Washington Post features an opinion article Tuesday co-authored by U.S. President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron as the British leader visits Washington to discuss ending the war in Afghanistan and other bilateral issues. “Put simply, we count on each other and the world counts on our alliance,” the pair write, concluding: “…we still believe that there is hardly anything we cannot do.”

Election Fallout  The Christian Science Monitor looks at how this year’s U.S. Presidential race will impact foreign policy – and potentially provide the Taliban and Iran with increased leverage. “So while America’s adversaries may not be able to actually pull key strings to choose America’s next president, the penchant of American politicians for politicizing American foreign policy ends up giving enemies – and friends – the tools they need to manipulate the US,” it argues.

Changing Tides? — A new poll shows French President Nicolas Sarkozy defeating challenger François Hollande in first-round voting for the first time since the start of the presidential race, Bloomberg reports. The survey, taken after Sarkozy’s calls for stricter immigration controls and an increased focus on buying European products, could mean the president is taking voters away from right-wing National Front candidate Marine LePen.

Child’s Play — The Atlantic explores an effort to protect the “moral health” of children in Uzbekistan by limiting the import of foreign-made toys. Government-run newspaper UzDaily supports the proposed legislation saying, foreign-made toys “are not tied to our national traditions.” The import limits come after stuffed animals were detained in Belarus and Russia for participation in anti-govenment protests.