Taliban officials and senior Afghan political leaders met in Moscow on Tuesday for peace talks, despite objections from Afghanistan’s government, which criticized the meeting as undermining its legitimacy.
Tuesday’s talks were attended by around 70 political and social leaders from Afghanistan, among them former president Hamid Karzai, who said they hoped it could build trust and lay a foundation for a future political settlement that might help end the war. Members of Afghanistan’s U.S-backed government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, refused to attend the talks on the grounds that it will only engage in direct talks with the Taliban, and not alongside other Afghan political actors.
US President Donald Trump has announced in his State of the Union speech that he will hold a second nuclear summit with North Korea’s leader this month. In an address to the nation with the theme “Choosing Greatness”, he vowed once again to build a border wall. While appealing for political unity, the Republican president also said “ridiculous partisan investigations” could damage US prosperity. In a rebuttal, Democrats accused Mr Trump of abandoning US values.
Pope Francis on Tuesday publicly acknowledged the scandal of priests and bishops sexually abusing nuns and vowed to do more to fight the problem, the latest sign that there is no end in sight to the Catholic Church’s abuse crisis — and that it now has a reckoning from the #MeToo movement. The acknowledgment comes just two weeks before he hosts an unprecedented gathering of bishops to craft a global response to the scandal of priestly predators who target children and the superiors who covered up the crimes.
John Cantlie, a British journalist who was taken hostage in Syria in 2012 and appeared in a number of ISIS propaganda videos during his time in captivity, is believed to be alive, UK Security Minister Ben Wallace said Tuesday. Cantlie, an experienced war photographer, was covering the Syrian conflict when he was abducted alongside American journalist James Foley, who was later beheaded by ISIS. Asked generally about British hostages around the world, Wallace said the UK does not pay ransom and discourages other countries from doing so.
The 36-year-old nurse accused of raping an intellectually disabled woman who later gave birth at an Arizona long-term health care facility pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a sexual assault charge. Nathan Sutherland was accused of raping the 29-year-old victim at the Hacienda HealthCare facility after the woman stunned her caregivers and family in December by giving birth to a baby boy. Investigators tested the DNA of all male employees who worked at the facility and later said Sutherland’s DNA matched a sample from the newborn child.