Afghanistan confirms killing of Pakistani Taliban leader

“US forces conducted a counterterrorism strike, June 13, in Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which targeted a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization,” a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan told Arab News. (AFP)
Updated 15 June 2018
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Afghanistan confirms killing of Pakistani Taliban leader

  • US officials claim the drone strike targeting the TTP chief is “not a violation” of the temporary truce offered by President Ghani to the Taliban militants
  • Fazlullah’s death is a major loss for Pakistani Taliban in years and apparently the first on the Afghan soil

KABUL: The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Mullah Fazalullah, was killed on Wednesday in a US drone strike in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh said on Friday.
Fazalullah, who had a bounty of $5 million on his head, “was a terrorist leader,” Radmanesh told Arab News. “His death will have a multifaceted impact.”
A spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Col, Martin O’Donnell, told Arab News in an email: “US forces conducted a counterterrorism strike, June 13, in Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which targeted a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization.”
Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday said the Taliban is honoring its three-day cease-fire that began Thursday night in response to his truce. He expressed hope for its extension.
Ghani said he had spoken overnight with Saudi King Salman, who pledged his “full support for the truce and peace” in Afghanistan.
“This is the first cease-fire in the contemporary history of Afghanistan, and I want to congratulate the people for that,” Ghani added, saying he welcomes any step that leads to the end of bloodshed in the country.
Before declaring its truce, the Taliban unleashed a series of deadly attacks against government forces in various parts of the country, ignoring Ghani’s cease-fire, which began on Tuesday and will last for three more days. The US drone strike did not violate Ghani’s truce, O’Donnell said.


Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

Updated 26 June 2019
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Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

  • But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues
  • The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India on Wednesday, promising a renewed focus on negotiating improved trade and investment ties between the two nations.
But Pompeo, on a visit to India, gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues ranging from access to Indian markets for leading American companies to New Delhi’s demands for foreign firms to store Indian data in the country, and exports of steel and aluminum to the United States.
The two nations are “friends who can help each other all around the world,” Pompeo told a joint news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after they met.
The current differences were expressed “in the spirit of friendship,” he added.
The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.
In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest US companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart last year invested $16 billion to buy control of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart.
Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.
Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, played down the spat on Wednesday.
“If you trade with someone and they are your biggest trading partner, it is impossible you don’t have trade issues,” he said.
India’s ties with Russia and Iran, both now subject to US sanctions, are also a sore point.
US pressure has led India to stop buying oil from Iran, a top energy supplier. The United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
The missile deal and Iranian oil were both discussed during their meeting, Jaishankar and Pompeo said, but mentioned no resolution of either at the news conference.
Earlier, Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks at his official residence in the capital, New Delhi, and they exchanged handshakes in images broadcast on television.
“The Prime Minister expressed his strong commitment to achieve the full potential of bilateral relations in trade and economy, energy, defense, counterterrorism and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.
Pompeo is expected to round off the trip with a policy speech hosted by the US embassy, before departing on Thursday for a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 nations in Japan.