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In brief: Taliban agree to unconditional talks


Karachi, Pakistan – The Pakistani Taliban announced Tuesday that they have accepted a government offer to hold unconditional talks about ending a six-year insurgency, but the move comes amid national public revulsion at a two-week wave of bombing attacks that has killed 300 people.

The spokesman of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, the official name of the Pakistani Taliban, said they would declare a cease-fire if the military also suspended operations against it in the northwest tribal areas bordering eastern Afghanistan, where 150,000 troops are currently deployed.

The government peace proposal received approval from the country’s political parties at a September conference in the capital, Islamabad. But Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, infuriated by the recent wave of terrorist strikes, threatened to rescind the offer, calling the Taliban “enemies of Pakistan” and apostates.

That rejection and the revulsion that has swept Pakistan over the terrorist bombings apparently moved the Taliban to reconsider its actions. After originally claiming responsibility for the first attack, the bombing of a church in Peshawar at the end of Sunday morning Mass that killed more than 80 parishioners, the Taliban now are saying they had nothing to do with the attack – or any of the others that followed it.

The Pakistani news media, which had supported Sharif’s decision to offer unconditional talks to the Taliban, have rejected the militants’ disclaimers as a duplicitous ploy.

Island would be Plum in Trump portfolio

Mineola, N.Y. – Donald Trump is thinking about adding an island to his already-flashy portfolio.

The real estate mogul and TV reality star said Tuesday he’s considering purchasing New York’s Plum Island, but has yet to make a final decision.

The 843 acres off the coast of Long Island house a laboratory that studies infectious animal diseases that could imperil the nation’s livestock industry. Congress voted in 2009 to close the aging lab, which opened in 1954, and build a new one in Manhattan, Kan.

The General Services Administration is overseeing the proposed sale of the island to defray the costs of constructing the new facility; there has been no estimate of what the island could fetch at auction.

Trump said he has yet to consider exactly what he might do with the property.

“We would do something, but it would not be on a big scale,” Trump said. “We would look at it and come up with something appropriate.”


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