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Karzai under fire on Afghan women’s rights

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai’s US-backed government is under fire this International Women’s Day, accused of selling out on Afghan women’s rights as it tries to woo the Taliban into peace talks. Lawmakers, rights organisations and analysts say that the Afghan leader, by endorsing an edict calling women second-class citizens,…

Karzai invites Taliban leaders for direct talks

KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday invited the Taliban for direct talks with his government, while urging Pakistan to facilitate negotiation efforts towards ending Afghanistan’s decade-long war. “In order to realise the objectives of the peace process, I invite the leadership of the Taliban to engage in direct…

Pakistanis shout ‘death to America’ in Islamabad

Several thousand Pakistanis poured onto the streets of Islamabad Monday, chanting “death to America” and demanding holy war at a rally whipped up by right-wing, religious and banned organisations. It was the latest show of support for Defence of Pakistan, a coalition of around 40 parties chaired by a cleric dubbed…

McCain warns against U.S. weakness in Taliban talks

WASHINGTON — Top US Senator John McCain warned the United States on Sunday against negotiating with the Taliban from a position of weakness due to the looming troop pullout in Afghanistan. The White House confirmed on Thursday that the United States was taking part in an Afghan-led reconciliation process, after…

Saudi official renews call for Taliban to renounce Al-Qaeda

A senior Saudi official on Saturday called on the Taliban to lay down their arms and renounce Al-Qaeda as preconditions for Saudi-mediated peace talks with the Afghan government. “Saudi Arabia’s conditions for mediation … are that the Taliban lay down their weapons, engage in the political process and renounce Al-Qaeda,”…

Panetta voices caution on Taliban prisoner deal

WASHINGTON — US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday he would not approve the transfer of any Taliban inmates held at the US-run prison in Guantanamo Bay unless he was sure the detainees would not return to the battlefield. President Barack Obama’s administration has confirmed tentative discussions with the Taliban…

Pakistan condemns NATO leak on Taliban support

Pakistan on Wednesday hit out angrily at a leaked NATO report accusing its spies of secretly aiding the Afghan Taliban, saying that pre-dawn air strikes killed at least 20 local Taliban fighters. Pakistan’s alliance with the United States and NATO plummeted to an all-time low after US air strikes killed…

Afghan soldier kills four French troops over U.S. Marines video

KABUL — An Afghan soldier who shot dead four French troops has said he did it because of a recent video showing US Marines urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban insurgents, security sources told AFP. The attack on the soldiers, who were unarmed, came on Friday at a base…

Only ‘direct’ talks can bring peace: Afghan official

WASHINGTON — An Afghan official said Thursday his government hopes peace talks can achieve “a political solution” with the Taliban movement, but stressed that any agreement must come from “direct” negotiations the two parties. “Ultimately direct peace negotiations will have to be between Afghan partners,” said Afghan foreign ministry spokesman…

Taliban back peace talks but warn no surrender

Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents warned Thursday that their support for peace talks did not mean they had surrendered in the 10-year war against US-led coalition forces. The comment came as the United States announced that it would send a senior official to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai next week to see…

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