16 February 2019

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(BNA) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Afghan and Taliban statements show there is support for a Taliban political office in Qatar, but said nothing has been concluded yet.

"Positive statements" from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban demonstrate "there is support for such discussions, for the (Taliban) political office to open in Qatar," Clinton said.

"Nothing has been concluded. We are still in the preliminary stages of testing whether this can be successful," Clinton said in a press conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani.

The Taliban announced last week that it planned to set up a political office in Qatar, a move seen as a precursor to peace talks with Washington.

At the same time they  demanded the release of prisoners from the US military detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Clinton said: "We have not made any decisions about releasing any Taliban from Guantanamo."

The chief US diplomat said Washington is prepared to back Afghan-led reconciliation talks.

She added that reconciliation can only occur if the Taliban renounces violence, breaks with Al-Qaeda and supports the Afghan constitution, which protects the rights of women and minorities.

"I have made it clear to President Karzai that we will work with him, under his leadership," she said.

She said she has dispatched US special regional envoy Marc Grossman to travel to Afghanistan next week to continue US consultations with the Afghans and also to visit Qatar to continue "consultations" there.

Sheikh Hamad, when discussing the proposal to open a Taliban office in his Gulf emirate, said "Qatar is trying to be peaceful messengers or peaceful ambassadors, and we are trying to do this with all our capacity.

"That's part of our policy how to defuse the tension in our region," said Sheikh Hamad, who is also Qatar's prime minister.

"And any opportunity we can help our friends to try to find a mutual ground to start a negotiation and dialogue, we think this is the best opportunity to solve the tension in our region," he added

PESHAWAR (BNA) A bomb explosion killed at least twenty nine people and wounded several others in Jamrud Market of Khyber Agency Tuesday.
According to sources, a remote-controlled bomb was fixed near a pick-up van at a bus stop.
The injured were shifted to Hayatabad Medical Complex, Peshawar and Lady Reading Hospital where some are in critical condition.

Monday, January 09, 2012
Kabul (BNA) China is planning a military base in Pakistan, India Today reported, citing "a secret report prepared by the government's joint intelligence committee."

According to the report:
China is keen to build military bases in FATA, or the Northern areas, while Pakistan wants to counterbalance Indian naval forces by having a naval base in Gwadar. But it does not spell out the exact location of these bases.
At a time when Pakistan-US relations are strained-chiefly over drone missile attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas and the covert Navy SEAL operation attack that took out Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil- China has made no secret of its interest in strengthening its own ties with the nuclear-armed nation.
Last Thursday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao hosted Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Beijing and vowed to support closer military exchanges between the countries.
“China and Pakistan pledged to strengthen military ties and bring existing cooperation to a new level," Xinhua quoted China's Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie as saying.
“China values its traditional friendship with Pakistan,” Liang reportedly said, adding that Beijing hopes to develop “pragmatic and effective cooperation with Pakistan in national defense arena."
The Associated Press of Pakistan quoted Kayani as echoing Liang's comments, saying that Pakistan "would continue to provide firm support to China on all issues concerning its core interests," without specifying those interests.
Kayani said, however, that the relationship had been strengthened by frequent high-level visits, joint exercises and enhanced technological cooperation.
India Today, meantime, wrote that:
China's deepening strategic penetration of Pakistan and joint plans to set up oil pipelines/ rail/ roads and naval and military bases are a matter of concern.
The paper acknowledged that: "China's desire for a military presence in Pakistan has been discussed by the political and military leadership of that country in recent months."
It noted that the issue of Chinese bases in Pakistan was discussed during the visits of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to China and during a visit late last year of the ISI chief, Shuja Pasha, to Beijing.
 

WASHINGTON: A Pakistani man convicted on terrorism charges has been sentenced to more than four years in jail in the United States over a plot to smuggle a member of the Taliban into the country.

Irfan Ul Haq, 37 -- who last September pleaded guilty along with two other Pakistanis to conspiracy to provide support to a terror organization -- was sentenced to 50 months in jail by a US federal judge in Washington on Thursday.

The other two men were sentenced last month to 40 months and 36 months in prison over the same plot, carried out between January and March 2011. All three men have agreed to return to Pakistan following their sentences.

The three men were arrested in Miami on March 13 last year.

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