NATO weighs future of Afghan mission, seeks to support talks

Around 14,000 US troops are in Afghanistan, just over half with NATO and the rest doing counter-terror and combat operations. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 February 2019
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NATO weighs future of Afghan mission, seeks to support talks

  • Frustrated with America’s longest war, US President Donald Trump says he wants to pull out troops
  • US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is meeting with the Taliban and others to try to end Afghanistan’s 17-year war

BRUSSELS: NATO defense ministers are discussing the future of the alliance’s operation in Afghanistan and how best to use its military presence to support political talks aimed at ending the conflict.
Frustrated with America’s longest war, US President Donald Trump says he wants to pull out troops, raising doubts about NATO’s training operation in the strife-torn country.
Around 14,000 US troops are in Afghanistan, just over half with NATO and the rest doing counter-terror and combat operations.
Were US troops to leave the NATO operation, some allies, like Germany, wouldn’t be able to do their job as they rely on American air support.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is meeting with the Taliban and others to try to end Afghanistan’s 17-year war. He briefed NATO ambassadors before Thursday’s meeting.


Philippines’ Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

Updated 21 min 22 sec ago
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Philippines’ Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

  • Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government
  • Canada has since offered to take the rubbish back

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to send 69 containers of garbage back to Canada and leave them within its territorial waters if it refuses to accept the trash, his spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nation,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told a media briefing.
Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government.
Canada has since offered to take the rubbish back and the two countries are in the process of arranging the transfer.
But Canada missed a May 15 deadline set by Manila to take back the shipment, prompting the Philippines to withdraw top diplomats from Canada last week.
“Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously. The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dump site,” Panelo said.
The Canadian embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Philippines has made several diplomatic protests to Canada since a 2016 court ruling that the garbage be returned.
The consignments were labelled as containing plastics to be recycled in the Philippines but were filled with a variety of rubbish including diapers, newspapers and water bottles.
The issue is not the only one to strain ties between the two countries.
Last year, Duterte ordered the military to cancel a $233 million deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada, after Ottawa expressed concern they could be used to fight rebels.