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Pakistan army wants US to leave Afghanistan

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Rawalpindi : Pakistan’s military says it wants the US to pull out its troops from the neighboring Afghanistan in order to end a 17-year-old war there.

“We wish that (the) US leaves Afghanistan as friend of the region, not as a failure,” Pakistan army spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor said during a news conference in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

He also said Islamabad supports Washington’s outreach to the Taliban which want US troops out of Afghanistan.

 

Asked what Pakistan could do to help the United States negotiate a political settlement with the Taliban, Ghafoor said, “As much as we can, we will facilitate.”

“What the US is expecting from us, and the foreign office is cooperating with, is that somehow they could have these negotiations with them (Taliban),” he added.
The comments came just after US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad concluded a visit to the Pakistani capital.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who enjoys the support of Pakistan’s army which dominates foreign policy, met Khalilzad earlier in the week and pledged to support a peace process with the Taliban.

Pakistan and the United States have engaged in a fresh war of words after President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of doing nothing in the fight against terrorism despite getting billions of dollars in aid.

Khalilzad, an Afghan-born veteran US diplomat who served as George W. Bush’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations, was named by the Trump administration three months ago as a special envoy to negotiate peace.

Khalilzad’s visit to Pakistan followed a request from Trump to Prime Minister Khan to assist in moving forward the peace talks.

Contacts have already started between Khalilzad and Taliban representatives with both sides aiming to build a favorable position in advance of any talks.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is a fierce critic of Washington’s policies in the region.

The Kabul government has already stepped up efforts to convince the Taliban to end the 17-year militancy amid Washington’s failures on the battleground.

At the request of the US, a Taliban office was established in Doha in 2013 to facilitate peace talks. In recent months, Taliban representatives and Khalilzad have discussed the Taliban’s conditions to end the war in Afghanistan.

The latest overture came after an exchange of barbed tweets between Trump and Khan last month.

Back then, Khan hit back at Trump following his remarks that Islamabad did not do anything for Washington. Khan, in a series of tweets, defended his country’s record in Washington’s so-called war on terror. He also accused Trump of making Pakistan a scapegoat to cover Washington’s failure in Afghanistan.

Khan also said that Trump’s administration was making Pakistan a scapegoat to cover Washington’s failure in Afghanistan.

Successive US governments have criticized Pakistan for links with the Taliban and for harboring former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Afghanistan has been gripped by insecurity since the US and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror in 2001. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.

US forces have been bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Trump, with militants now launching attacks on both Pakistan and Afghanistan.


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International

Secret locations of US nuclear weapons in Europe accidentally leaked

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Washington: The secret locations of US nuclear weapons stored in Europe have been accidentally revealed in a report published by a Nato committee.

The document referred to the sites of roughly 150 American nuclear weapons.

“These bombs are stored at six US and European bases — Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi-Torre in Italy, Volkel in The Netherlands, and Incirlik in Turkey,” a section of the report seen by Belgian newspaper De Morgen said.

 

The information was included in an early version of the report published in April by the Defence and Security Committee of the Nato Parliamentary Assembly, titled A New Era for Nuclear Deterrence? Modernisation, Arms Control and Allied Nuclear Forces.

However, the reference has since been removed from the final version released last week.

The latest version of the report instead makes reference to aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons, adding: “The European Allies often cited as operating such aircraft are Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and Turkey.”

A Nato official told The Washington Post the report was “not an official Nato document” and pointed out that it was written by the alliance’s parliamentary assembly.

“We do not comment on the details of Nato’s nuclear posture,” they added.

While the storing of American nuclear weapons in Europe has long been regarded as an open secret, media organisations on the continent viewed the document as confirmation.

“Finally in black and white: There are American nuclear weapons in Belgian,” the De Morgen report was headlined.

“Nato reveals the Netherlands’ worst-kept secret,” Dutch broadcaster RTL News said.

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‘They gave you Nobel for what?’ Trump asks Yazidi activist Nadia Murad

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Washington: US President Donald Trump appeared unfamiliar with the work and cause of Nobel laureate Nadia Murad as she pleaded with him to help the Yazidis of Iraq.

Murad, one of thousands of women and girls from the ancient faith abducted by ISIS as they overran swathes of Iraq in 2014, joined a group of survivors of religious persecution who met Trump in the Oval Office on the sidelines of a major meeting at the State Department.

After Murad explained how her mother and six brothers were killed and that 3,000 Yazidis remained missing, Trump said, “And you had the Nobel Prize? That’s incredible. They gave it to you for what reason?”

 

With little pause, Murad, who was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, repeated her story.

“After all this happened to me, I didn’t give up. I make it clear to everyone that ISIS raped thousands of Yazidi women,” she said.

“Please do something. It’s not about one family,” she said.

Trump, who has boasted of crushing the self-styled caliphate of ISIS that once stretched across Iraq and Syria, also appeared at a loss when Murad asked him to press the Iraqi and Kurdish governments to create safe conditions for the Yazidis to return.

“But ISIS is gone and now it’s Kurdish and who?” Trump asked, before later telling her, “I know the area very well.”

Murad also explained how Yazidis took dangerous routes to find safety in Germany, whose welcome to refugees has been vocally criticized by Trump.

The US leader also appeared unfamiliar when he met a representative from the Rohingya, a Muslim minority targeted in a brutal campaign two years ago in Myanmar.

One day earlier, his administration banned travel to the United States by Myanmar’s army chief and three other senior officers, calling the violence “ethnic cleansing.”


The Trump administration frequently speaks of promoting religious freedom, a key issue for much of his evangelical Christian base.

Government ministers and representatives of persecuted groups are spending three days at the State Department for a meeting on religious freedom, which Vice President Mike Pence will address on Thursday.

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Iran FM at UN accuses US of ‘economic terrorism’

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Tehran: Iran’s foreign minister has renewed accusations that the United States was waging “economic terrorism,” on a visit to the United Nations during which Washington has sharply curtailed his movements.

After months of soaring tensions, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif came to New York for a UN session on sustainable development, where he denounced unilateral sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump.

Iranians are “subjected to the most brutal form of ‘economic terrorism’ — deliberately targeting innocent civilians to achieve illegitimate political objectives,” Zarif said from the rostrum on Wednesday.

 

The “unlawful, extraterritorial” sanctions “represent the greatest threat to the achievement of sustainable development goals of Iran and many of our neighbours,” he said.

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