World News Brief, Tuesday May 5

Afghan and Taliban leaders meet in Doha to negotiate cease-fire; China and Taiwan hold high-level talks; bodies found in Thailand thought to be from abandoned trafficking camp; thousands of migrants rescued from Mediterranean Sea; suicide blast rips through Damascus; and more


Afghan Officials and Taliban Meet in Doha

Afghan political figures met (Reuters) with Taliban representatives in Doha over the weekend in a bid to negotiate a cease-fire. The informal talks concluded without an agreement, and the Taliban rejected (Express Tribune) the possibility of peace talks before the full withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan. The Taliban launched its annual fighting season last week in Kunduz province. Afghan security forces responded with a counteroffensive and have reportedly killed (TOLO) at least 200 militants and injured another 125 in the past week. Separately, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack (AP) in Kabul on Monday morning that killed one and injured another thirteen.


"The Taliban continues to view themselves as the legitimate rulers of the country and the existing democratic system in Afghanistan as an illegal imposition by the West controlled by Washington. Given this self-perception, the Taliban, if and when it comes to the negotiating table, is unlikely to back down from its core demands—complete withdrawal of foreign forces, release of Taliban prisoners, and a rewriting of the Afghan Constitution to something more in tune with Sharia—that are not acceptable to Kabul," writes Aryaman Bhatnagar for the Diplomat.

"America's faltering Afghan strategy should serve as a cautionary tale of how not to make peace with an enemy. It is time for Obama to recognize that a political settlement with the Taliban is simply wishful thinking. Instead, he should focus on bolstering Afghanistan’s security forces and identifying ways to eliminate the Taliban militia’s sanctuaries in Pakistan. After all, terrorists are not in the business of making peace; America should not think otherwise," writes Brahma Chellaney in Project Syndicate.

"Afghanistan’s history has been marked by violence, sacrifice and tears. But the partnership between Afghanistan and the United States can make Afghanistan an enduring success, replacing conflict and violence with a legacy of justice and peace for our children," writes Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in the Washington Post


China and Taiwan Hold High-Level Talks

President and Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping met (SCMP) with Eric Chu, the chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang party, for the highest-level talks between cross-strait political parties in six years. Xi said Beijing could help Taiwan join regional economic bodies, including the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, but Taiwan's participation would have to be based on the "one China principle."                                                                

THAILAND: Officials discovered at least thirty bodies in what is believed to be an abandoned human trafficking camp in southern Thailand Friday. Authorities arrested (Bangkok Post) local officials and are pursuing more suspects. Police reports indicate that the camp, near the border with Malaysia, held ethnic Rohingya Muslims (HRW) from Burma and Bangladesh.  


Thousands of migrants rescued from Mediterranean

Suicide blast in Syria

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