- - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

KABUL — Afghanistan’s president praised Pakistan on Tuesday for releasing a group of Taliban prisoners, a move he hopes will kick-start peace talks with the militant group, the president’s office said.

The praise was announced in a meeting between President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan’s powerful army chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, who was in Kabul for a one-day visit. Gen. Kayani also met with senior members of the international military coalition.

Mr. Karzai “praised Pakistan’s decision to release, for the success of the peace process, a number of Taliban prisoners,” the Afghan president’s office said in a statement.

Pakistan has released at least nine Taliban prisoners. The most prominent is former Justice Minister Nooruddin Turabi, who served when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Afghan officials said last week that the Pakistanis have agreed to release others as well.


Watchdog: Sanctions have no effect on Iran nuke program

PARIS — The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said he has no evidence that international sanctions against Iran have had any impact on its nuclear program.

U.S.-led international sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program have hurt the Islamic republic’s economy, but Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tuesday that nuclear monitors “do not see any effect” from the sanctions.

He said Iran is still producing enriched uranium at up to 20 percent at “a quite constant pace.”

Mr. Amano said the IAEA cannot determine whether Iran is planning or will gain a nuclear weapon.

On Wednesday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief will host political directors from six world powers that have held talks intermittently with Iran.

Tehran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful, but many Western nations fear it masks a weapons program.


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