World News Brief, Friday February 17

US and Afghanistan in peace talks with Taliban; Xi says US should respect China's core interests; Thai police say Iranians arrested for attempted bomb attack were targeting Israeli diplomats; Iran offers to return to international nuclear talks for first time in a year; Greek finance minister says Greece is being forced out of euro; horrific scenes at Honduras prison fire scene; and more

Top of the Agenda: US and Afghanistan in Talks With Taliban

US and Afghan officials have begun three-way talks with the Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. Karzai insisted the Taliban was committed to reaching a peace settlement. The negotiations follow a recent Taliban decision to open a diplomatic office in Qatar, which paved the way for preliminary talks with the United States. The talks also come amid efforts by the Obama administration to wind down the US war in Afghanistan and begin withdrawing troops. Karzai, who arrived in Pakistan today, indicated Islamabad's cooperation (NYT) would be crucial in securing a peace deal with the Taliban.


"What we need is a political reconciliation in Afghanistan, and it's not clear yet that the Taliban want that. It is clear that the whole prospect of negotiations with the Taliban creates tremendous unease and uncertainty in the Karzai government and in the Northern Alliance of political parties [non-Pashtun parties] that back the Karzai government," says Middle East expert Bruce O. Reidel in this CFR Interview.

"Much of the space vacated by the US should be filled by Afghanistan's neighbors. If they have any good sense about the threats they will face from Afghan refugees, drugs, and Islamic extremism, they will finally step up to their responsibilities," writes CFR's Leslie H. Gelb at the Daily Beast.

"As Afghanistan's alliances and power dynamics shift, the risk of civil, ethnic conflict breaking out in the country rises--endangering not only Afghans, but their Pakistani neighbors as well. And ironically, talk of peace and a US withdrawal is contributing to a widening gap between key Afghan factions," writes Arif Rafiq on



Xi Calls on US to Respect 'Core Interests'

Addressing business leaders, government officials, and academics in Washington on Wednesday, Chinese Vice President and heir apparent Xi Jinping said China and the United States should respect each other's "core interests," including Chinese sovereignty over Tibet and Taiwan (NYT).

As Xi visits the United States, CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy says Washington must address the trust deficit with Beijing as the top policy priority in this CFR Interview.

THAILAND: Police said three Iranians being held in connection with an attempted bomb attack in Bangkok on Tuesday were targeting Israeli diplomatic staff (al-Jazeera), indicating a link between the bombing of an Israeli diplomatic car in New Delhi and a similar botched attempt in Tbilisi on Monday.



Iran claims nuclear gains but offers to return to talks

Greece is being forced out of eurozone says finance minister

Anger after Honduras prison fire


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on