Uzbekistan offers to host talks between Afghan government and Taliban

In this file photo, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev speaks during a press conference with Kyrgyzstan's President following their meeting at the Ala-Archa state residence in Bishkek on Sept. 5, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 27 March 2018
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Uzbekistan offers to host talks between Afghan government and Taliban

TASHKENT: Uzbekistan offered on Tuesday to host peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, a move that could make Tashkent a player in settling the decades-long conflict in the neighboring country.
The former Soviet republic is seeking to raise its international profile as part of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s campaign to open up the nation of 32 million and attract foreign investment after decades of isolation and economic stagnation.
.”..We stand ready to create all necessary conditions, at any stage of the peace process, to arrange on the territory of Uzbekistan direct talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban movement,” Mirziyoyev told a conference in Tashkent attended by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and a number of foreign minister including those of Russia, China and Turkey, also attended the Tashkent conference, but there were no Taliban representatives.
Mirziyoyev took over the predominantly Muslim Uzbekistan after the death in 2016 of authoritarian President Islam Karimov, who had run the country since the Soviet era.
Tashkent’s ties with the West were strained under Karimov who was often criticized over his government’s human rights abuses.
Mirziyoyev has promised to liberalize the country and has launched a diplomatic campaign to bring in foreign investment and boost trade.


German court rejects call for Catalan leader Puigdemont to be rearrested

Updated 23 min 31 sec ago
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German court rejects call for Catalan leader Puigdemont to be rearrested

BERLIN: A German court on Tuesday rejected a request from prosecutors to take former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont back into custody pending a decision on whether he can be extradited to Spain.
Puigdemont was detained by German police March 25 after crossing the border from Denmark. Spain had issued a European arrest warrant and sought his extradition on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds — charges that stem from an unauthorized referendum last year on Catalonia’s independence from Spain.
He was released April 6 after a German court said it appeared he can’t be extradited for rebellion, the more serious of the two charges. But prosecutors in the northern town of Schleswig argued that new information provided by Spanish authorities suggests that would be possible.
They cited videos showing violence against Spanish police and said in a statement that “the disturbances were on such a scale that prosecutors believe that he should also be extradited over the accusation of rebellion.” The prosecutors argued that the charge is comparable to two offenses under German law — treason and breaching the peace.
They said that Puigdemont would pose a flight risk and called for him to be taken back into custody. The state court in Schleswig disagreed and rejected the request.
Puigdemont remains free with certain conditions, including reporting to police once a week.
The separatist politician has been living in Berlin, frequently receiving political allies from Catalonia including his newly elected successor as regional president, Quim Torra.
The Schleswig court said it is “still open” when a final decision will be made on whether Puigdemont can be extradited. It said that the prosecutors have yet to submit a formal application to examine whether an extradition is possible.