Duterte to defend Manila’s drug war at summit

Civil society groups hold their candles as they recite prayers during a rally led by the Roman Catholic church to call the attention of the Government for the thousands of deaths in the so-called war on drugs by President Rodrigo Duterte, on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017 in suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. (AP)
Updated 11 November 2017

Duterte to defend Manila’s drug war at summit

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will host world leaders in Manila from Sunday, hoping their presence will quieten international criticism over his deadly drugs war, which rights groups say may be a crime against humanity.
Duterte goes into the event appearing confident that even his most outrageous remarks and actions will be ignored, having boasted in the lead-up he once stabbed someone to death, while at the same time proposing to host a global human rights summit.
US President Donald Trump will be among leaders from 19 countries, plus the heads of the UN and EU, coming for the talks, which will begin with a banquet on Sunday night followed by summits on Monday and Tuesday.
But rights groups have expressed alarm and disappointment that Trump and most others are likely to endorse or stay silent over Duterte’s violent rule, which has seen thousands of people killed.
“Duterte will enjoy the gift of tacit silence from East Asian leaders on his murderous drug war during the upcoming summit,” Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phelim Kine told AFP.
“We can expect East Asian leaders to exercise a diplomatic blind eye to the killings of thousands of Filipinos over the past 16 months as part of Duterte’s drug war.”
Duterte won last year’s presidential elections after promising to eradicate illegal drugs with an unprecedented crackdown that would see up to 100,000 people killed.
Since Duterte took office, police have reported killing 3,967 people in the crackdown.
Another 2,290 people have been murdered in drug-related crimes, while thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data.
Many Filipinos back Duterte, believing he is taking necessary measures to fight crime.


Taliban aim to sign deal with US by end of month

Updated 18 January 2020

Taliban aim to sign deal with US by end of month

  • Washington has for weeks been calling on the militants to reduce violence
  • The Taliban and the US had been negotiating the deal for a year

KABUL: The Taliban are aiming to reach a withdrawal agreement with the US by the end of January and are prepared to “scale down” military operations ahead of signing the deal, according to their chief spokesman.
The statement by Suhail Shaheen to Pakistani daily Dawn comes as the group and the US held discussions in Doha this week, after insurgent sources told AFP they had offered to initiate a brief cease-fire.
“We have agreed to scale down military operations in days leading up to the signing of the peace agreement with the United States,” Shaheen told Dawn in a report published Saturday.
He added that the Taliban were “optimistic” a deal with Washington could be signed before the end of the month and that the reduction in fighting across the country would also include the targeting of Afghan forces.
“It’s now a matter of days,” said the spokesman.
Washington has for weeks been calling on the militants to reduce violence, posing it as a condition for resuming formal negotiations on an agreement that would see US troops begin to leave the country in return for security guarantees, after a near two-decade fight.
The Taliban and the US had been negotiating the deal for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process “dead,” citing Taliban violence.
Talks were later restarted between the two sides in December in Qatar, but were paused again following an attack near the Bagram military base in Afghanistan, which is run by the US.
Any agreement with the Taliban is expected to have two main pillars — an American withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a commitment by the insurgents not to offer sanctuary to militants — and would ultimately have to be given final approval by Trump.
The Taliban’s relationship with Al-Qaeda was the main reason cited for the US invasion more than 18 years ago.
A deal would hopefully pave the way for intra-Afghan talks.
Many observers agree that the war can no longer be won militarily, and that the only route to a lasting peace in Afghanistan is for an agreement between the Taliban and the US-backed government in Kabul.
The Taliban have until now refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, which they consider an illegitimate regime, raising fears that fighting will continue regardless of any deal ironed out with the Americans.

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