AFGHANISTAN-VIOLENCE: An Afghan military official says coalition forces have killed about 50
Taliban fighters in a battle that followed a deadly Taliban ambush on a
U.S.-Afghan military convoy. Afghan army spokesman (Maj.) Abdul Basir Ghori says the battle happened Saturday in the (Bala Baluk district of the) western province of Farah. Earlier Saturday, a Taliban ambush in the area killed three U.S.
soldiers and seven Afghan troops. Ghori says coalition forces
retaliated with air strikes. There was no independent confirmation of
the Taliban deaths.
Another two U.S. soldiers were killed Saturday in a bombing in eastern
Afghanistan. Other militant attacks around the country killed at least
28 civilians and security guards. Violence has risen steadily in Afghanistan in recent years as the
Taliban has fought to extend control across wide swathes of the
countryside. The U.S. military and NATO have deployed a record number
of troops to try to help Afghan forces crush the insurgency.
US-AFGHANISTAN: Published reports say the Obama administration will soon grant
detainees at a U.S. prison in Afghanistan more ability to challenge
their custody. The reports (published Saturday in The New York Times and The Washington Post)
quote unnamed administration officials as saying the new privileges
will be given to the roughly 600 detainees at the U.S.-run prison at
Bagram Air Base north of Kabul. Under the new system, officials say the U.S. military will assign a
representative to each Bagram prisoner for the first time. The
representatives would not be lawyers, but would be able to call
witnesses and submit evidence in the detainees' defense. The U.S. military has been holding the detainees at Bagram as "enemy
combatants," some for up to six years. They have had no access to
lawyers to challenge their detentions or hear allegations against them,
unlike terrorism suspects at a U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
US-MIDDLE EAST: U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell is expected to make a final push
to revive Mideast peace talks during a visit to the region before a
U.N. General Assembly meeting next week. Mitchell arrived in Israel late Saturday ahead of separate talks with
Israeli and Palestinian leaders. His agenda will be topped by Israeli
settlement expansion. The United States has asked Israel to freeze settlement construction in
the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel says new settlement
construction is necessary to accommodate population growth.
Palestinians say they will not resume peace negotiations until all settlement construction is stopped.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo Sunday to discuss reviving peace talks
with the Palestinians, ahead of a possible three-way meeting with the
U.S. on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
KAZAKHSTAN- FIRE: Kazakhstan's government says a fire at a health center for drug addicts has killed 38 people. The Kazakh Emergency Ministry says the fire engulfed the treatment
facility early Sunday in the southeastern city of Taldykorgan. It says
emergency workers rescued 40 patients and medical staff from the
building. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
Violations of safety regulations are common in the former Soviet state, making state-run facilities prone to fires.
IRAN-NUCLEAR: The United States says it plans to focus on Iran's nuclear program in
upcoming talks with Tehran, despite Iran's refusal to discuss the
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Iran has a responsibility to
walk away from what he described as its "illicit nuclear weapons
program." He says that is what the U.S. goal will be in negotiations
On Friday, the United States and other world powers accepted Iran's new
offer to hold talks, even though Tehran said it will not negotiate on
its nuclear program.
Iranian officials say they are pleased the U.S. and other world powers
accepted the offer. But Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says
Iran will not compromise on its "inalienable right."