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US must rebuild trust for Afghan talks: Taliban

KABUL: Afghanistan’s Taliban will eventually resume talks with the United States, a former commander said, but it will depend on how Washington repairs trust damaged by a string of incidents, notably the killing of 16 Afghans blamed on a US soldier. The Taliban have suspended the nascent dialogue, blaming the US for failing to deliver on a promise to transfer five of its leaders held by the US military in Guantanamo Bay. The Islamist group later said actions such as the mass killing in southern Kandahar province two weeks ago had poisoned the atmosphere. Syed Mohammed Akbar Agha, a sen...
Published On: 2012-03-26

America to cut nuke arsenal further

SEOUL: President Barack Obama said today the United States would further cut its nuclear arsenal, as he warned in a hard-hitting address that North Korea and Iran must back down over their atomic plans. Obama delivered his speech just before the start of a nuclear security summit in Seoul, seeking to build global momentum in the drive to eliminate or safeguard material that could be used to make thousands of bombs. He said major progress had been made since the initiative was launched two years ago, citing a number of countries that had removed their stockpiles and forecasting more commitmen...
Published On: 2012-03-26

Homs shelling kills five

BEIRUT: Troops shelled Khaldiyeh district in the flashpoint city of Homs on Monday, with at least five people dying in the onslaught and two more killed elsewhere in Syria, activists and monitors said. Khaldiyeh, targeted in a week-long campaign to flush out regime opponents, was hit by mortar rounds that set alight houses in the neighbourhood, said the Local Coordination Committees. “The regime is trying to storm the neighbourhood,” said a statement from the LCC, an activist group that organises anti-regime protests. The shelling killed five people in several neighbourhoods of the...
Published On: 2012-03-26

UK PM admits hosting party donors

LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted today to hosting donors to his Conservative party at his official residence, the day after a top party official quit for trying to sell access to the premier. In an abrupt U-turn Cameron published details of three dinners with wealthy supporters since taking office in 2010, but also sought to quell the row with a promise to work towards long-stalled reforms of party funding. Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas was forced to resign yesterday after being filmed offering potential donors private dinners with Cameron for £250,000 ($396,000) and...
Published On: 2012-03-26

New Hong Kong leader faces stiff test after poll win

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's leader-elect Leung Chun-ying faces skepticism over his political skills to lead the global financial hub, after a divisive election victory at the weekend in which critics dubbed him a closet communist. His reputation as a staunch supporter of Beijing has put in doubt expectations of direct elections for his post at the end of his five-year term in 2017, and raises the prospect of protests by democracy campaigners. Leung has to keep Hong Kong, a city of seven million people on the South China Sea known as the financial gateway to China, on an even political keel as it ...
Published On: 2012-03-26

Aung San Suu Kyi's health improving: party

BURMA: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is recovering after she fell ill on the campaign trail, but must rest this week ahead of weekend by-elections, her party said Monday. The Nobel laureate, who is running for a seat in parliament for the first time in the Sunday polls, cut short a trip to the south and cancelled campaigning this week after she felt sick Saturday and was put on a drip. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) said in a statement that the pro-democracy icon had become tired after spending many hours under the sun in a small boat on the latest in a series of ...
Published On: 2012-03-26

U.S. says willing to talk to North Korea if it behaves

SEOUL: U.S. President Barack Obama told his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, the United States was open to starting dialogue with North Korea, but only if it meets international commitments, a senior White House aide said. Obama has called on North Korea, which plans a long-range rocket launch next month, to curb its nuclear ambitions or face further international isolation. "We said we were willing to pursue dialogue with North Korea... but we made clear that we could not go forward if North Korea goes ahead with this rocket launch," the aide said. "We're open to dialogue if ...
Published On: 2012-03-26

Turkish ex-military chief goes on trial for "terrorism"

SILIVRI: Turkey's former armed forces chief raised a clenched fist and waved to supporters when he faced terrorism charges on Monday in a historic trial that demonstrates the ebbing power of an army that once ranged above political leaders in the country. The court, sitting in the Silivri high security prison complex, underlined the fall of the military by denying General Ilker Basbug's opening appeal to have his case considered by the Supreme Court. Basbug, chief of staff from 2008 to 2010, is accused of being a leader of a shadowy network dubbed "Ergenekon", behind a string of al...
Published On: 2012-03-26

NATO official: British killed in Afghan shooting

KABU: A NATO official says the two service members shot dead in southern Afghanistan on Monday by a man in an Afghan uniform were British soldiers. READ ALSO: Attacker in Afghan uniform kills 2 NATO troops The official spoke anonymously because the information had not yet been formally announced. Officials have said the two international service members were killed when a man in an Afghan army uniform turned his weapon on international troops at a base in southern Afghanistan. The gunman was shot and killed....
Published On: 2012-03-26

Syrian troops shell central city of Homs

BEIRUT: Syrian troops shelled rebel-held neighborhoods in the central city of Homs on Monday with at least five people seriously wounded, while Turkey closed its embassy in Damascus and recalled its ambassador as relations between the former allies continue to deteriorate. Activities at the embassy in the Syrian capital are being "temporarily suspended," but Turkey's consulate in Aleppo will remain operational, a brief statement posted on the embassy's website said Sunday night. The embassy is being closed because of the poor security situation in Syria, a ministry official said on...
Published On: 2012-03-26