President Obama isn’t scheduled to meet with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin this week in Europe, but two U.S. allies are.
The office of British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he will meet with Putin this week after they attend events in Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings Friday.
Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban, doesn’t make statements often. Omar is so reclusive that some have even speculated that he is either dead, or otherwise incapacitated in Pakistan. But on Sunday the Taliban released a statement attributed to Omar, who declared the release of the top five Taliban commanders from Guantanamo a “great victory” for the mujahideen of Afghanistan.
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The five Taliban leaders were undoubtedly among the most dangerous detainees held by the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks. Over the weekend, however, the Obama administration announced that they had been exchanged for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by the Taliban since 2009. The Taliban had long demanded the exchange as a prerequisite for beginning “peace talks” in earnest with the U.S. The talks have thus far gone nowhere. And it says much about the Obama administration’s approach to diplomacy that the U.S. was willing to drop its preconditions for the talks (including that the Taliban renounce al Qaeda), while the Taliban stuck to its upfront demands.
Pro-Russian rebels attack Ukrainian border guards
Hundreds of pro-Russia insurgents attacked a border guard base in eastern Ukraine on Monday, with some firing rocket-propelled grenades from the roof of a nearby residential building. At least five rebels were killed when the guards returned fire, a spokesman for the border guard service said.
Rebels in uniform near the Luhansk base promised safety for the officers if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces.
Spain’s King Juan Carlos, who led Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy but faced damaging scandals amid the nation’s financial meltdown, announced Monday he will abdicate in favor of his more popular son so that fresh royal blood can rally the nation.
While the monarchy is largely symbolic, Juan Carlos’ surprise decision may hold implications for a burning Spanish issue: the fate of wealthy Catalonia, which plans to hold a secession referendum this fall.
Israel plans to work against the inclusion of Hamas candidates in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary and presidential elections that are due to be held within the next six months in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement in this regard on Monday following an emergency security cabinet meeting held hours after a swearing in ceremony for the newly united Fatah-Hamas interim government was held in
The security cabinet said that Israel would “act, including in the international arena, against the participation of terrorist organizations in elections.”
It stressed that Israel would not negotiate with the Palestinians as long as Hamas was part of the Palestinian government. It noted that the government had already voted on April 24th to suspend these talks and that this decision still held.
The Afghan president is angry at being kept in the dark over a deal to free five Taliban leaders in exchange for a captured U.S. soldier, and accuses Washington of failing to back a peace plan for the war-torn country, a senior source said on Monday.
The five prisoners were flown to Qatar on Sunday as part of a secret agreement to release Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who left Afghanistan for Germany on the same day.
The only known U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan, Bergdahl had been held captive for five years.