Pakistan: ‘Progress’ made at Taliban-US talks

US, Taliban and Qatar officials meet in Doha to discuss a peace agreement for Pakistan. (Qatari Foreign Ministry via Reuters)
Updated 12 March 2019

Pakistan: ‘Progress’ made at Taliban-US talks

  • The talks between US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives have gone on days longer than initially expected
  • The Taliban refuse to negotiate with Kabul, which is not taking part in the Qatar talks

DOHA, Qatar: Pakistan’s foreign minister says “progress has been made” at ongoing peace talks in Qatar between the Taliban and the US that have stretched over two weeks.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke on Tuesday at a news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Islamabad.
Qureshi didn’t elaborate, though he added: “Pakistan has encouraged all factions within Afghanistan to sit together and have a meaningful intra-Afghan dialogue.”
The talks between US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives have gone on days longer than initially expected in Doha, the Qatari capital.
The US had asked Pakistan to assist in its efforts to find a negotiated peace with the Taliban to end the longest war in American history.
The Taliban refuse to negotiate with Kabul, which isn’t taking part in the Qatar talks.


Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

Updated 19 min 40 sec ago

Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

  • The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers
  • An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but local youths subsequently mobilized for an attack on the army position

JUBA: Clashes between soldiers and civilians during a disarmament exercise in the central South Sudanese town of Tonj have left 127 dead, the army spokesman said Wednesday.
Major General Lul Ruai Koang told AFP that the fighting erupted on Saturday as security forces carried out an operation to disarm civilians in the area which has seen deadly inter-communal clashes.
More than six years after a civil war broke out in the country, and in the absence of a functioning government, many communities are flush with weapons, which they keep for protection or defense against cattle raids.
The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers. An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but according to Koang the youths mobilized others for an attack on the army position.
“On the latest, the number of those killed, I can confirm to you that it rose to 127,” Koang said, adding that 45 of those killed were security forces and 82 were youths from the area.
A further 32 soldiers were injured.
Koang said two military officers involved in “triggering the clashes” had been arrested, and that the situation in Tonj had calmed down.
South Sudan is emerging from a six-year civil war that left 380,000 dead and millions displaced, and disarmament is a major stumbling block.
Experts have warned against operations that coerce people to lay down their guns without proper planning, as some communities could find themselves unable to protect themselves after their weapons are removed.
“The clashes should be an opportunity to rethink the approach to disarmament. What is the point of removing guns without addressing what drives folks to arms themselves?” Geoffrey Duke, head of the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, said on Twitter.
“We can take guns away this week & they buy a new one next week (as) long as they still see the need to have (one).”