World leaders to join New York anti-poverty bash

A homeless man holds a sign asking for help in downtown Washington, DC, in this April 7, 2015 file photo. (AFP)
Updated 15 September 2016

World leaders to join New York anti-poverty bash

NEW YORK: Leaders of several countries as well as rocker Tom Morello will take part in a second day of the anti-poverty Global Citizen Festival in New York, organizers said Thursday.
The Global Citizen Festival, which “sells” tickets to fans who commit to action to support the world’s poorest, will take place on September 24 in Central Park with headliners Rihanna, Metallica and Kendrick Lamar.
The festival, which last year featured a slew of visiting speakers including US Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama, said it would hold a second day this year aimed at “advocacy and impact” to be held September 22 at New York University.
The prime ministers of Belgium, Malta and The Netherlands will attend as well as Australia’s foreign minister, Nigeria’s environment minister and actor Forest Whitaker, Global Citizen said.
Musical attractions will include Morello — best known as the guitarist of politically charged rockers Rage Against the Machine — as well as versatile jazz artist Jon Batiste, alternative pop singer Regina Spektor and soul singer Aloe Blacc.
“Music has been, and will continue to be, an important component of the struggle for a more peaceful, just and humane planet,” Morello said in a statement.
Global Citizen, which has taken place annually since 2012, recently announced an expansion to India with hip-hop great Jay Z and rockers Coldplay to perform for the first time in the country at the Nov.19 show in Mumbai.
The festival encourages music fans to sign petitions or take other action for causes critical to ending extreme poverty such as putting more girls in school and improving access to toilets.

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.