Indian Army chief says there should be no conditions for talks with Taliban

Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat on Wednesday endorsed the option of dialogue with the Taliban provided there are no preconditions and the talks are aimed at bringing lasting peace and stability to Afghanistan. Rawat’s remarks came against the backdrop of efforts by Pakistan, the US, Russia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. However, the Taliban have refused to engage with the government in Kabul and India has kept a close watch on these developments because of Pakistan’s influence on the militants.…

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India begins commercial activity at Chabahar port

India has started its commercial activities in Chabahar within the framework of a trilateral deal, also including Afghanistan, aimed at developing the southern Iran port into a regional trade hub. The countries signed the agreement in Tehran in May 2016 to establish a strategic transit and transport route connecting the trio, with Chabahar as the focal point. India then inaugurated a headquarters called India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ) at the port to help it commit to its part in the accord. On Monday, India’s Shipping Ministry said in…

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Man attacks primary school in Beijing, wounds 20 kids

A man has attacked students at an elementary school in China’s capital of Beijing, wounding 20 children, three of them severely, local government officials have announced. A male suspect is already “under control” and the injured students have been admitted to hospital, said a statement by the Xicheng district government posted on its social media account on Tuesday, without elaborating on motives or the exact circumstance of the attack. Local press reports, however, cited social media posts as reporting that the young victims had suffered knife wounds to the head.…

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Suspicious packages sent to embassies, consulates in Australia

Police in Australia say they are investigating the source of packages containing suspected “hazardous material” sent to foreign embassies and consulates in Melbourne and Canberra. According to Press TV, Australian media and officials said several suspicious packages had been delivered to embassies and consulates — including those of the US, Russia, Britain, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and India — on Wednesday. Preliminary, unverified reports suggested that the words “asbestos” and “wear a mask” were written on the packages. At least 17 “hazardous material warnings” were issued across Melbourne, including near the Indonesian, Thai, Greek,…

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Pentagon let $27.7b in funds expire in 2018, watchdog says

The US Department of Defense (DoD) allowed $27.7 billion in funds to expire last year, a new government watchdog report says, boosting calls by Democrats that Pentagon dollars should be trimmed. The department’s Inspector General (IG) office made the announcement in a 33-page document about fiscal year 2018 released Tuesday. “If the DoD does not spend its funds within the legal timeframes, the funds expire. In FY 2018, the DoD reported $27.7 billion of expired funds, meaning that, generally, the DoD can no longer use those funds for new spending,”…

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