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Taliban leader tells of Pakistan talks

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – The deputy chief of the Pakistani Taliban announced Saturday that the militant group was in peace talks with the government and an agreement to end its brutal four-year insurgency was within striking distance.

The statement by Malvi Faqir Mohammad, which appeared timed to exploit tensions between the Pakistan army and the U.S., will likely stoke further concerns in Washington over Pakistan’s reliability as a long-term partner in the fight against extremists.

It represented the first time a named Taliban commander has confirmed that the group is negotiating with the Pakistani government. Still, it was unclear whether Mohammad speaks for the entirety of the increasingly factionalized network, especially its leader, Hakimullah Mehsud.

Asked about the alleged negotiations, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that his government has followed a policy of “dialogue, deterrence and development” to tackle militants who are based in the lawless, Afghan border region.

“That is a continuing process,” he told a local television station.

Despite pushing for peace talks to end the related insurgency in Afghanistan, Washington is unlikely to support similar efforts to strike a deal in Pakistan.


 

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Seoul: North Korea committed to U.S. summit, denuclearization

UPDATED: 7:57 p.m.

updated  South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un committed in the rivals’ surprise meeting to sitting down with President Donald Trump and to a “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” The Korean leaders’ second summit in a month Saturday saw bear hugs and broad smiles, but their quickly arranged meeting appears to highlight a sense of urgency on both sides of the world’s most heavily armed border.