From Washington, this is VOA news. The Taliban to talk to the U.S. and Afghan government. Syria dominates the G8. I’m Ray Kouguell reporting from Washington.
Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents have opened their political office in Qatar, paving the way for direct peace talks with representatives of the Kabul government and U.S. officials.
U.S. officials say preliminary talks with the Taliban delegation will begin Thursday in Doha.
Ayaz Gul reports on the Taliban’s announcement.
Taliban representative Mohammed Sohail Shaeen announced the opening of the office in a news conference in Doha, the capital of Qatar. He said the move is part of efforts to support a peaceful political solution to Afghan problems and to improve the Taliban’s relations with the international community.
The Taliban announcement came hours after Afghan President Hamid Karzai disclosed in Kabul that Afghanistan will soon send peace negotiators to Qatar for talks with representatives of the militant group. Mr. Karzai said there are no preconditions from his side for the proposed negotiations.
Ayaz Gul for VOA news, Islamabad.
President Karzai spoke in Kabul during a ceremony in which Afghan forces took over responsibility for security for the entire country from the NATO military coalition set to leave next year.
That security transition was barred by a bomb blast Tuesday in another area of Kabul, targeting an Afghan lawmaker who survived. Three people were killed in the bombing.
A suicide bomber detonated explosives at a crowded funeral in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 27 people, including a provincial lawmaker.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack which took place Tuesday in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
International efforts to end the violence in Syria dominated both days of the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland now completed. VOA’s Kent Klein has details.
The meetings at a Northern Ireland golf resort have highlighted differences between Russia and the West on chemical weapons and Mr. Obama’s decision to send military aid to the Syrian opposition.
On the PBS interview program Charlie Rose, the president said U.S. backing for the Syrian rebels could help advance peace talks.
“We’ve been trying to help the opposition along with its international partners, help the opposition become more cohesive. We’ve been assisting not only the political opposition but also the military opposition. So, there’s a counter-weight that can potentially lead to political negotiations–with the evidence of chemical weapons, what we’ve said is we’re going to ramp up that assistance.”
Kent Klein, VOA news, traveling with the president at the Northern Ireland summit.
Turkish anti-government demonstrators adopted a new type of protest Tuesday–silence.
Hundreds of people joined performance artist Erdem Gunduz, who stood still and silent in Istanbul’s Taksim Square for hours.
Demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara have for weeks now been marked by violence, with police using tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators throwing rocks and gasoline bombs.
U.S. National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander says NSA surveillance programs have helped prevent more than 50 terrorist attacks since 9/11.
General Alexander gave a congressional committee some information on two cases he said the programs hindered.
Mali’s government signed a deal with Tuareg rebels that will allow the army to return to a key rebel-held city ahead of next month’s elections.
The new accord says Malian security forces and civilian officials can return to Kidal before the July 28th presidential election.
Authorities in Chad have arrested the suspected leader of a poaching gang that is accused of slaughtering 189 elephants since last August.
Idriss Hassan was arrested last week while transporting 124 elephant tusks.
Hassan and his gang are also accused of killing five park rangers in Cameroon.
It’s not often that monsoons are cheered. But across India, millions of farmers are quite joyful. Anjana Pasricha explains.
After two disappointing monsoon seasons, farmer ?Abdullah Singh is ecstatic. This year, copious rains have drenched his 20-hectare farm in the northern Punjab state two weeks ahead of schedule.
?Abdullah thinks that rice saplings he planted a week ago have received enough moisture. He says this has happened after many years.
As a result, ?Singh will save the money he usually has to spend on diesel and generators to pump out groundwater.
He also hopes the ample rains will replenish the depleting groundwater levels in his state.
Anjana Pasricha, New Delhi.
And I’m Ray Kouguell, VOA news. More on the Internet at voanews.com.
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