Politics

China Says U.S. Looking for Excuses to Raise Defense Budget

BEIJING, Feb 3 – China said on Wednesday the United States was just looking for excuses to pump taxpayers’ money into its military, after U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter named China as a reason for seeking a $582.7 billion defense budget next year. Carter said the funding request was in line with last year’s congressional

[ Read More ]

Kabul in Blackout As Government Struggles to Fix Power Lines

KABUL, Feb 1 – Militants and bad weather in northern Afghanistan have hampered efforts to repair power lines that were destroyed last week, cutting electricity in the capital, Kabul, to about six hours a day, officials said on Monday. Insurgents last week destroyed an electricity pylon in the Dand Shahabuddin district of Baghlan province that

[ Read More ]

Israel To Consider Invitation to Peace Talks with Palestinians

By Ori Lewis JERUSALEM, Jan 30 – Israel would consider a French invitation to peace talks with the Palestinians, but believes France has made a mistake by saying it will recognize a Palestinian state if the talks fail, an Israeli government official said on Saturday. “If and when we get an invitation to a conference,

[ Read More ]

Main Syrian Opposition Heads to Geneva as Peace Talks Begin

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Stephanie Nebehay AMMAN/GENEVA, Jan 30 – A delegation from Syria’s main opposition group flew to Geneva on Saturday to assess whether to join Damascus government officials in United Nations-brokered peace talks, an opposition representative said. The 17-strong team included the head of the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC), which includes political

[ Read More ]

Syria Peace Talks Derailed as Opposition Stays Away

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi, John Davison and Stephanie Nebehay AMMAN/BEIRUT/GENEVA, Jan 29- The Syrian opposition said it will not attend peace talks due to begin in Geneva on Friday, derailing the first attempt in two years to hold negotiations aimed at ending the five-year-long war. An opposition council convening in Riyadh said its delegation would “certainly”

[ Read More ]

Iran’s Rouhani Says Main Problem in Syria is Terrorism

By John Irish PARIS, Jan 29 – The Syrian people must be left to decide their own future, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday, adding that defeating terrorism was Syria’s main problem and not who is running the country. On the first official visit to France by an Iranian president since 1999, Rouhani also

[ Read More ]

New U.S. General Named to Lead Int’l. Forces in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, Jan 28 – Lieutenant General John “Mick” Nicholson, the current head of NATO’s Allied Land Command, has been chosen as the new commander of international forces in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Wednesday amid concerns about setbacks in the fight against the Taliban. Nicholson, whose selection must be confirmed by the Senate, would replace

[ Read More ]

Syria Peace Talks Hinge on Envoy’s Answers

BEIRUT/GENEVA/PARIS, Jan 27 – The Syrian opposition is awaiting clarification on key points from the United Nations before deciding whether to attend peace negotiations planned for Friday. The Syrian government has already agreed to join the talks that U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura hopes to convene in an indirect format in Geneva with the aim

[ Read More ]

Iran Warns U.S. Warship to Leave Area of Naval Exercise

DUBAI, Jan 27 – Iran’s navy on Wednesday warned a U.S. warship to leave an area of the Sea of Oman where the Iranians were holding an exercise, the Tasnim news agency said. The agency, close to the Revolutionary Guards, reported that after the warning to the vessel, it left the area instantly and “the

[ Read More ]

Syrian Opposition’s Manna Says No Peace Talks Without Kurds

By Cecile Mantovani LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Jan 27 – The co-leader of the Syrian Democratic Council, Haytham Manna, on Wednesday he would not take part in peace talks in Geneva unless two Kurdish leaders, Saleh Muslim and Ilham Ahmed, were also invited to participate. “I’ll go with my friends or not (at all). There is no

[ Read More ]