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Afghan, Pakistan leaders maintain unyielding positions at summit

ISLAMABAD Leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan held firm to positions on their troubled ties at a conference on Afghanistan’s future on Wednesday that risked getting overshadowed by a Taliban attack in Afghanistan’s greatest city.

The “Heart of Asia” meeting, an annual gathering of Asian and other nations to pledge support to Afghanistan, comes months following the very first, inconclusive talks among the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Even though the principal concentrate of the two-day meeting in the Pakistani capital, which began on Tuesday, is Afghanistan, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is attending, supplying a likelihood for India and Pakistan to breathe life into efforts to enhance their ties.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also attending and he named on Tuesday for Pakistan to use its influence with the Afghan Taliban to push for Afghan reconciliation.

But slim hopes for a resumption of Afghan talks had been underlined by a Taliban raid on the airport in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar which began on Tuesday evening.

Fighting among the militants and Afghan safety forces was continuing on Wednesday and at least 18 individuals had been killed, Afghan officials stated.

Cooperation amongst Afghanistan and Pakistan is noticed as crucial for Afghan peace but hopes for warmer ties soon after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated final year were quickly dashed, largely due to the fact of a series of bomb attacks in Kabul.

Ghani told the conference “enemies” had unsuccessfully tried to divide Afghanistan but they had been foiled. He blamed “regional and international terror groups” for the violence in his nation.

“In the previous, there has been the temptation to use non-state actors as instruments of foreign policy,” he added, in a clear reference to Afghan assertions that Pakistan supports the Taliban to maintain influence in Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies that.

“I have had to turn into a war president, since an all-out war has been imposed on us,” Ghani mentioned.


Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stressed his commitment to “an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation procedure”, a reference to the talks amongst the Afghan government and the Taliban, hosted by Pakistan, that foundered after one round in July.

The negotiations had been derailed following news leaked that Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar had been dead for two years. Omar’s deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, took more than as leader but violent splits subsequently emerged in the militant group.

Sharif also spoke of Pakistan’s aim to repatriate the 2 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, some of whom have been in Pakistan for decades.

“The massive cross-border movement of refugees constitutes a safety risk,” Sharif stated.

In response, Ghani pointed out that an offensive by the Pakistani military against Pakistani Taliban has sent an influx of Pakistanis into Afghanistan.

“Unfortunately, current events in Pakistan have forced us to host 350,000 to 500,000 refugees from Pakistan … the refugee concern is a common problem, like all troubles,” Ghani mentioned.

But leaders will be mindful of their domestic audiences and will want to look resolute.

Afghanistan and Pakistan accuse every single other of supporting Taliban insurgencies across their border. The two insurgencies are separate but allied.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Obama and Putin discuss Syria, Ukraine at summit: White Residence official

World | Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:31am EST


WASHINGTON U.S. President Barack Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the climate summit in Paris on Monday and discussed the Syrian crisis as properly as the situation in Ukraine, a White House official mentioned.

Obama told Putin he believes Syrian President Bashar al- Assad need to leave energy as element of a political transition, the official stated.

He also emphasized a diplomatic answer to the Ukraine crisis, adding that sanctions against Russia can be rolled back when Moscow honors the Minsk accord, according to the White Home official, who spoke on background.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason Writing by Susan Heavey Editing by Doina Chiacu)


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From penguins to Pope’s footwear, climate rallies pressure U.N. summit

PARIS Tens of thousands of men and women from Sydney to London joined a single of the greatest days of climate change activism on Sunday, telling planet leaders gathering for a summit in Paris there is “No Planet B” in the fight against global warming.

In the French capital, exactly where demonstrations had been banned by the authorities right after attacks by Islamic State militants killed 130 men and women on Nov. 13, activists laid out far more than 20,000 pairs of shoes in the Place de la Republique to symbolize absent marchers.

Amongst the high heels and sandals were a pair of plain black footwear sent by Pope Francis, who has been a vocal advocate for action to stop dangerous climate modify, and jogging shoes from U.N. Secretary-Common Ban Ki-moon. One activist, dressed in white as an angel with huge wings, held a sign saying “coal kills”.

About 10,000 individuals also joined arms to kind a human chain by way of Paris along the three-km (2-mile) route of the banned march, organizers said.

“This is a moment for the complete world to join hands,” mentioned Iain Keith, campaign director for Avaaz, 1 of the organizers.

Elsewhere, a lot more than two,000 events have been being held in cities like London, Sao Paulo and New York, producing it possibly the most significant day of climate action in history on the eve of the Paris summit which runs from Nov. 30-Dec. 11 and will be attended by about 150 heads of government.

Around the world, activists marched, dressed as polar bears or penguins at risk from melting ice, or chanted slogans such as “climate justice”.


In Sydney, about 45,000 folks are estimated to have marched by means of the central company district towards the Opera Home. Protesters held placards reading: “There is no Planet B,” and “Say no to burning national forests for electricity”.

U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping will be among the leaders attending the start off of the summit, which organizers hope will produce a first legally binding agreement to commit each rich and developing nations to curbing emissions of greenhouse gases, blamed for warming the planet, beyond 2020.

Hopes are higher that the Paris summit will not fail like the preceding such meeting six years ago in Copenhagen.

But all sides say pledges made in Paris will be insufficient to limit a rise in global temperatures to two degrees Celsius (three.six Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, extensively viewed as a threshold for unsafe alterations in the planet’s climate program.

Practically all the demonstrations had been peaceful but, right after the human chain protest in Paris, riot police fired tear gas and clashed with about 200 protesters, some wearing masks, in the Spot de la Republique.

Demonstrators carried banners calling for the defense of the climate and democracy. The square has been a gathering spot for Parisians considering that the Nov. 13 attacks.

Utilizing the state of emergency guidelines, police place 24 green activists below property arrest ahead of the summit, saying they had been suspected of arranging violent protests.

In Berlin, about 5,000 individuals marched with some dressed as penguins. A single carried a massive “There is no planet B for penguins,” banner.

In London, hundreds of marchers were joined by fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and actress Emma Thompson. “This is our planet and we are in deep, grave danger,” Thompson told Sky television.

In the greatest single march on climate adjust ever staged, final year organizers estimated 310,000 folks took component in New York.

(Added reporting by Michael Shields in Vienna Elizabeth Piper in London and Morag MacKinnon in Perth Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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EU hopes for Turkish help to slow migrants at summit

BRUSSELS Leaders of the European Union aim to sign an agreement with Turkey in Brussels on Sunday that delivers Ankara cash and closer ties with the EU in return for Turkish help in stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.

Aware of a sense of desperation in Europe for a solution to a crisis that is tearing the bloc apart following the arrival of close to a million folks this year, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has been driving a difficult bargain and diplomats said the 28 states had struggled by way of Saturday to agree a final offer you.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is due to meet the 28 EU national leaders for three hours from four p.m. (1500 GMT).

The Europeans, and none a lot more so than German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are below stress to handle the biggest influx of folks because World War Two, the bulk of them to Germany, exactly where Merkel is pushing challenging for a Turkish deal. The crisis has helped populist opponents and set nations against each other, straining the open borders cherished by the Union’s members.

Measures the EU has taken in current months have as however carried out little to control movements and even though winter weather may reduce the numbers for a few months, it is also worsening the plight of tens of thousands stuck by closing borders in the Balkans, piling additional stress on European leaders to discover a answer.

Sunday’s summit, referred to as just days ago as Brussels attempted to clinch a deal provided over a month ago, has been difficult by Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border.

That has in turn complicated European efforts to re-engage with Moscow, in spite of a continued frost more than Ukraine, in order to attempt and advance a peace in Syria that could each finish the flight of refugees and contain Islamic State. The Islamist group’s attack on Paris two weeks ago has also heightened public calls in the EU for much more controls on men and women arriving from Syria.

By late on Saturday, following a additional meeting of EU envoys in Brussels, diplomats mentioned a typical EU provide that they hope will secure Davutoglu’s signature was agreed. It need to be authorized by governments on Sunday ahead of the summit.

There remains a degree of nervousness, however, that Turkey could hold out for a lot more – a nervousness heightened by Erdogan’s choice not to attend himself but to send his prime minister.

“The Turks always negotiate to the final second,” 1 senior EU diplomat mentioned. “Why must this time be distinct?”


Europeans want Turkey to invest new EU income – some 3 billion euros ($ 3.2 billion) for the subsequent year or two – on enhancing life for the two.3 million Syrians now living in Turkey so that they are less probably to take to boats for nearby Greek islands.

The EU also desires Turkish authorities to make that journey a lot more hard and to preserve out a lot more of the Afghans and other Asians who cross Turkey on their way to Europe. It also desires to hold Turkey to commitments to take back men and women who successfully reach Greece but then fail in their claims for political asylum.

Turkey has pressed for more funds. An original EU supply of three billion euros for refugee care more than two years is now most likely not to carry a clear timeframe as Ankara hopes to safe more.

Turks will be promised simpler travel visas for Europe if they fulfill commitments on migrant flows in the coming year.

It will also win a pledge of “re-energized” talks on joining the EU, even though with conditions to persuade EU states that do not want populous, Muslim Turkey ever to join, and also Cyprus, which wants Ankara initial to help it reunite the island.

Diplomats said Turkey, whose decade-old EU accession talks have been stalled, would see talks on economic cooperation open shortly, but its demands for commitments from the EU to start talks on other troubles such as human rights would stay on hold – satisfying Cypriot insistence it meet current situations.

Human rights issues are unlikely to function considerably in the talks on Sunday, diplomats said, regardless of calls from activists in Europe and Turkey for EU leaders not to ease pressure on Erdogan over troubles such as media freedom due to the fact of the migrant crisis.

Even though EU leaders have pledged to continue to raise concerns such as last week’s new jailing of Turkish journalists and new complaints of oppression from minority Kurds, officials and diplomats say Europe’s priority with Ankara for now will be acquiring Erdogan’s help in slowing migrant movements.

A senior German official stressed on Friday, however, that Ankara also had significantly to acquire from cooperation as it faces an angry Russia and hostility from Syria and Iran.

(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald @macdonaldrtr Editing by Susan Thomas)

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