Safe passage for Afghan Taliban to be considered

Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States agreed Friday to look at ways to provide safe passage to Afghan Taliban who are willing to join the peace process, officials said.

The US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman met Afghan deputy foreign minister Javed Ludin and Pakistani foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani in Islamabad for the latest talks on the war-torn country's future.

They agreed to set up a group to look at how Taliban fighters who wanted to be part of the peace process could be included, Jilani told a news conference, saying it was an important achievement but without giving details.

Afghan deputy minister Ludin hailed the outcome, saying: "We need to bring those in the process who are willing to integrate in peaceful life in Afghanistan."

"We need to find them, encourage them and provide safe passage to them," he said.

The United States and allied countries fighting the insurgents view talks with the Taliban as crucial to bringing the war to an end, and no longer predict a decisive victory on the battlefield against the militants.

Kabul has said repeatedly that it is in negotiations with the Taliban, but the militia publicly refuses to deal with the government and last month said it had suspended contacts with the Americans in Qatar over a prisoner exchange.

Friday's talks came nearly two weeks after the Taliban launched spectacular coordinated attacks on Kabul -- the biggest on the capital in 10 years of war -- to mark the start of the Afghan "fighting season".

Grossman's visit was his first to Pakistan since relations plunged in November last year over a NATO air strike near the border with Afghanistan that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The US special representative held talks with Pakistani officials Thursday as part of efforts to repair ties between the two "war on terror" allies.

  • Popular hot yoga myths debunked 5 hours ago
    Popular hot yoga myths debunked

    What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, … Continue reading →

  • Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report 6 hours ago
    Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report

    Here are today’s top trending stories in case you missed them.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 17 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern
    Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern

    A new picture of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who is now 90 years old, has drawn concern from people on Singapore's internet space.

  • Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls
    Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls

    After being photographed at work in Jurong pooling used oil near coffee shops, 50-year-old Valerie Sim has been struggling to keep her family afloat. Web portals STOMP and The Real Singapore published pictures of her in February, triggering a witch hunt for others like her and comments from readers like “Who knows if they’ll use it as cooking oil?” Some readers also said they filed police reports against her and other people they believed were doing the same thing she was.

  • Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake
    Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's military commander said critics who called him out for wearing an especially luxurious watch should be quiet because the timepiece is actually a cheap Chinese fake.