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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal for CNN
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(CNN) -- Papers around the world continue to discuss the potential departure of allied forces from Iraq, with largely negative forecasts of the ramifications of a hasty withdrawal.

The New York Times says, "for the United States to pull entirely out of that country right now, as is being demanded by a growing chorus of critics, would be to snatch an unqualified disaster from the jaws of an enormous blunder."

"A total withdrawal from Iraq would play into the hands of the jihadist terrorists. As Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, made clear shortly after 9/11 in his book 'Knights Under the Prophet's Banner,' Al Qaeda's most important short-term strategic goal is to seize control of a state, or part of a state, somewhere in the Muslim world."

Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung says "withdrawal is the obvious option."

"But 130,000 U.S. soldiers cannot just get out quickly: a withdrawal that doesn't equate to wild flight requires a plan. The only ways out are to carry on or to divide Iraq. British and American voters will soon put a stop to the carry-on option. And division? It would create new prospects, but also unmanageable problems."

The Scotsman echoes the dire predictions of the consequences of a US withdrawal: "Iraq would descend into outright civil war and most likely split into three ethnic zones - Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni. We would bear a heavy moral responsibility for that tragedy. But that would not be the end of the matter. A divided Iraq is a weak Iraq. The bellicose Iranian regime would spread its influence into the oil-rich Shiite part of Iraq, threatening the West's direct interests."

The UK's Guardian says "we have turned Iraq into the most hellish place on earth."

"As for Iraq, the swelling chorus of born-again critics are likewise taking refuge not in denouncing the mission but in complaining about the mendacity that underpinned it and its incompetence. As always, turncoats attribute the failure of a once-favoured policy to another's inept handling of it. The truth is that the English-speaking world still cannot kick the habit of imposing its own values on the rest, and must pay the price for its arrogance."

The two Koreas

The International Herald Tribune says today it is unlikely South Korea will maintain pressure on Pyongyang for long.

"South Korea is not particularly afraid of a North Korean attack. South Koreans assume (perhaps correctly) that Pyongyang's goal is the survival of the Kim regime, and that the nuclear weapons are designed as a negotiating chip and a deterrent. South Koreans further assume that North Korean leaders know how slim Pyongyang's chances are of winning a real war, and therefore they will not start any large- scale violence unless feel completely cornered. Hence the South would shrink away from any actions which might destabilize or provoke North Korea - such as truly efficient sanctions."

The South's Korea Herald says "in light of the changed security environment, the Bush government's stated reason for refusing to meet with Pyongyang bilaterally does not seem to be very convincing. Granted, bilateral talks between the two countries failed once before, but a failure does not mean that it cannot be attempted again, especially given the changed conditions."

Another editorial in the IHT discusses why the nuclear test was so important to North Korea: "Even if there were no diplomatic gains to be had, Kim probably thinks that the bomb has assured him of a place in the pantheon of Korean heroes. The dream of uniting in the name of Kim, father and son, can longer be contemplated. But the bomb, symbol of Koreans defying their enemies and the whole world, is there for eternity. Even some in South Korea feel that awful though he is, Kim has done something for the nation. Perhaps they resent the fact that it was the North which built a bomb, not the outward-looking, prosperous South."

Burma

Two members of Burma's parliament -elected in the last democratic elections, but never permitted to meet - say in The Washington Post that the UN Security Council's decision to discuss the situation in Burma is late, but welcome nonetheless.

"It is shocking that the Security Council has taken so long to get involved. No fewer than 3,000 villages have been destroyed or dislocated by the military regime in eastern Burma in the past decade. During the regime's systematic attacks on ethnic populations, women have been raped, children conscripted as child soldiers and rice supplies burned. Recently the regime instituted a practice of using soldiers' bayonets to pierce the bottoms of rice bowls, leaving villagers unable to cook their most basic foodstuff."

Russian call-in

The Times in the UK reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin's televised national phone-in, with over two million questions sent in on either e-mail or by phone.

"Mr Putin was well prepared, with a command of statistics and policies that few previous incumbents could match. But the concerns of Russians differ from those of foreigners. Little was said on the state of democracy, freedom of the press, curbs on non-governmental organisations or the independence of the judiciary. Callers, admittedly preselected, focused on economic prospects, social welfare, pensions, transport infrastructure and the environment."

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Dire consequences are predicted if there is a swift withdrawal of allied troops from Iraq.

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