Monday: BP’s Costs Reach $3 Billion; Petraeus Takes Over in Afghanistan

BY Jason M. Breslow  July 5, 2010 at 9:38 AM EDT

Oil spill cleanup crew on July 4 in Pass Christian, Mississippi

An oil spill cleanup crew works on July 4 in Pass Christian, Mississippi. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

BP’s costs for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster has reached just over $3 billion for capping the well, cleanup of the waters and beaches and payouts to individuals, businesses and governments.

As the price tag mounts for the spill, the New York Times reported that BP intends to make its partners help shoulder the bill:

“Newly released documents show that on June 2, BP sent out demands for nearly $400 million to its partners in the well, the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and the Mitsui Oil Exploration Company of Japan, or roughly 40 percent of the $1 billion BP spent in May.”

Meantime, rough surf in the Gulf is delaying use of “A Whale,” a giant Taiwanese oil skimmer that can take in greater volumes of oily water and separate it from sea water. Other, smaller skimmers were prevented from working offshore along the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, as well.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports on the progress of the relief wells, which are intended to be the final solution for the leak. When the drilling comes to an end in early August, “it may take as few as a couple of hours or as many as five days to decide if the effort is a success or failure,” the paper reports.

In the 77 days since the spill began, the Washington Post reports, there is wide disagreement about the health of the Gulf of Mexico. Some researchers have concluded that the Gulf is being spared an ecological disaster; others think ecosystems that were already in trouble before the spill are now being pushed toward a brink.

Gen. Petraeus: ‘We Are in This to Win’

In a ceremony on Sunday marking his new position as top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, said, “We are in this to win.” Petraeus, who implemented a successful counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, has exactly one year before President Obama’s deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who visited Petraeus last week in Afghanistan, criticized the president’s plan to begin withdrawing by July 2011 on “ABC Sunday.”

“[W]e need a conditions-based situation, not a date for withdrawal. [The plan] certainly sounds an uncertain trumpet … to our friends as well as our enemies in Afghanistan as to the depths of our commitment.”

Biden in Iraq

Vice President Joe Biden continues his visit to Iraq on Monday. The vice president and Mrs. Biden arrived in Baghdad on July 3 in a surprise trip to “reaffirm the U.S. long-term commitment to Iraq,” according to the White House.

On Monday, Biden met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to discuss ways to end a political deadlock over who should run the country’s next government. Both Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his political rival, Ayad Allawi, claim to have earned the leadership role after elections four months ago. Biden met with al-Maliki and Allawi on Sunday.

The Los Angeles Times’ Ned Parker reports from Baghdad:

“Maliki’s supporters have insisted that their candidate should remain as prime minister because he represents the country’s Shiite majority whereas Allawi, a secular Shiite, is portrayed as a guardian of the Sunni Arabs. The competition appeared to further inflame a sectarian chill in the country’s politics.”

Talabani called Biden “a friend” and said they discussed “efforts, exerted to finding a solution” to the stalemate, the AP reported.

Netanyahu to Meet with Obama

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to travel to Washington for a meeting with President Obama on Tuesday. Netanyahu was previous scheduled to visit in June, but that trip was postponed after Israeli forces killed nine people in a raid on a boat attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Over the weekend, Turkey’s foreign minister threatened to break diplomatic ties with Israel if Israel did not apologize or accept the outcome of an international inquiry into the raid.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded, “We don’t have any intention to apologize.”

On Monday, Israel dropped its long-standing restrictions on allowing consumer goods into the Gaza Strip but kept tight limits on construction materials, which Israel believes can be used to make weapons.