Mattis makes unannounced visit to Afghanistan

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis landed in Kabul at a sensitive time in the 17-year Afghanistan war. (AFP)
Updated 07 September 2018
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Mattis makes unannounced visit to Afghanistan

  • His trip comes a little more than a year after President Donald Trump unveiled a revamped strategy for Afghanistan
  • Afghan and international players have been ratcheting up efforts to hold peace talks with the Taliban

KABUL: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis landed in Kabul on Friday for an unannounced visit to war-torn Afghanistan, where he will meet President Ashraf Ghani and the new US commander for American and NATO forces.
His trip comes a little more than a year after President Donald Trump unveiled a revamped strategy for Afghanistan that saw him commit thousands of additional US forces to the country on an open-ended basis.
Mattis, on his second visit to the country in recent months, arrives in Kabul at a sensitive time in the 17-year war.
The grinding conflict has seen little progress by Afghan or US forces against the Taliban, Afghanistan’s largest militant group.
Afghan and international players have been ratcheting up efforts to hold peace talks with the Taliban, which was toppled from power by US-led forces in 2001.
An unprecedented ceasefire in June followed by talks between US officials and Taliban representatives in Qatar in July fueled hopes that negotiations could bring an end to the fighting.
But a recent spate of attacks by the Taliban and the smaller but potent Daesh group that left hundreds of security forces and civilians dead has severely dented that optimism.


Maldives arrests ex-leader Yameen for money laundering

Updated 18 February 2019
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Maldives arrests ex-leader Yameen for money laundering

  • No comment from Yameen or his legal team yet
  • The court already froze the ex-president’s local bank accounts containing $6.5 million

MALÉ, Maldives: Maldivian authorities Monday ordered the arrest of former strongman president Abdulla Yameen over money laundering charges, officials said.
The arrest came after a court began a preliminary hearing into allegations that Yameen received nearly $1.5 million in illicit payments just before he lost his re-election bid in September.
“Prosecutors said that Yameen had allegedly attempted to bribe witnesses,” a court official said, adding that the former president would be taken to the Dhoonidhoo prison island near the capital.
Yameen, who came to power in 2013 and jailed many of his opponents or forced them into exile, had been summoned to the Criminal Court Sunday to formally receive his indictment.
During his five-year tenure, Yameen relied heavily on China for political and financial support as he came under criticism over his dismal human rights record.
The Indian Ocean archipelago nation of 340,000 Sunni Muslims is heavily in debt to China.
Authorities believe millions of dollars allegedly siphoned off by Yameen could be stashed abroad, and have said that talks are underway with foreign entities to repatriate any cash found.
The court has already frozen Yameen’s local bank accounts holding about $6.5 million, a decision the former leader has contested.
There was no immediate comment from Yameen or his legal team on the latest court order.