Trump says peace deal with Taliban ‘very close’

In this file photo taken on November 28, 2019 US President Donald Trump speaks to the troops during a surprise Thanksgiving day visit at Bagram Air Field,in Afghanistan. The United States has secured a seven-day reduction in violence in talks to help seek a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan, Pentagon chief Mark Esper said February 13, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 14 February 2020

Trump says peace deal with Taliban ‘very close’

  • “I think we’re very close,” Trump said during a radio show
  • He spoke amid growing signs of agreement on a week-long “reduction of violence”

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said Thursday that the United States is “very close” to a peace deal with the Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan.
“I think we’re very close. I think there’s a good chance that we’ll have a deal and we’ll see,” he told Geraldo Rivera’s “Roadkill” radio show.
“That doesn’t mean we’ll have one but we’ll know over the next two weeks,” he said.
Trump spoke amid growing signs of agreement on a week-long “reduction of violence.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on the way to the Munich Security Conference, where he is expected to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, that talks had “made real progress over the past couple of days.”
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said after a NATO meeting in Brussels that the two sides have “negotiated a proposal for a seven-day reduction in violence.”
Trump was not clear if he was talking about the proposed limited pause in hostilities or something broader.
“We’re having very good dialogue, we’ll see and we’ll know over the next week or two,” he said. The Taliban, “they’d like to make a deal, too.”
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East China cities quarantine arrivals as virus spreads in S. Korea, Japan

Commuters wearing protective face masks amid fears of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus ride an elevated train in Bangkok. (AFP)
Updated 26 February 2020

East China cities quarantine arrivals as virus spreads in S. Korea, Japan

  • South Korea has reported 10 deaths and almost 1,000 infections, while Japan has 159 confirmed cases, not including 691 on a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo

BEIJING: The eastern Chinese city of Qingdao is imposing a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals, state media reported on Tuesday, as China moves to address the threat of a rise in coronavirus cases in neighboring South Korea and nearby Japan.
People with suspected virus symptoms arriving in Qingdao, a major Northeast Asian transport hub in Shandong province, should be isolated in designated hospitals, while others are required to stay at their residences or designated hotels, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The rule came into force on Monday, Xinhua added, citing a local government statement.
“Apparently 100,000 South Koreans live in Qingdao, and there are normally over 300 flights a week between Seoul and Qingdao,” Michael Pettis, a finance professor at Peking University, said on Twitter. “This is likely to be disruptive to both economies.”
Another Shandong city, Weihai, said it would quarantine arrivals from Japan and South Korea from Tuesday — the first country-specific compulsory quarantine requirement by China, which has criticized travel restrictions implemented by other countries.
The measures comes as the virus, which started in China’s Hubei province, takes hold beyond the country.
South Korea has reported 10 deaths and almost 1,000 infections, while Japan has 159 confirmed cases, not including 691 on a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo.
Weihai is also home to a sizeable Korean expatriate community. It lies near the eastern tip of the Shandong peninsula across the Yellow Sea from South Korea, and its quarantine rules apply both to Chinese and foreign nationals arriving in the city.
They will be put up in hotels free of charge for a 14-day quarantine period, according to a notice on the city’s official Wechat account.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Qingdao imposes 14-day quarantine on all arrivals.

● Shandong city Weihai singles out S. Korea, Japan arrivals.

● S. Korea has almost 1,000 cases; Japan cases up.

People who arrived in Weihai from South Korea or Japan from Feb. 10 onwards have already been contacted by the Weihai government, the statement said, adding it had “appropriately handled” cases of fever.
The government of a third Shandong port city, Yantai, on Tuesday said all business travelers and short-term visitors should stay in designated hotels.
Further north in China’s Liaoning province, the city of Liaoning — home to both North Korean and South Korean communities — is tightening screening of inbound passengers and will check the temperature of all arrivals, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Sweden’s health agency said it would not introduce airport controls that take up resources but are “ineffective” because infected people may not show symptoms.
Ukraine International Airlines onboard personnel will wear rubber gloves and masks on flights from Italy.
Meanwhile, the drugmaker Moderna has shipped a potential coronavirus vaccine for humans to government researchers for testing.
Shares of the biotech company soared, a day after the company said it sent vials to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for early-stage testing in the US.