Entries in Peace (9)


No Response Yet for UN Envoy on Syria Peace Proposals

Jason Kempin/FilmMagic(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan may be waiting a long time before he gets a response from the Syrian government about his peace proposals.

Annan, now a U.N.-Arab League special envoy, held discussions with both President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition Syrian National Council on how to end the year-long crackdown that has left close to 8,000 people dead, most of them civilians.

Annan said he presented concrete proposals that he hopes both sides will take seriously.  However, given the deep level of mistrust between the Syrian government and rebel forces, it won't be shocking if Annan comes away disappointed.

Al-Assad has made no secret that he's determined to wipe out anyone opposed to his 11-year autocratic regime by bombarding them militarily.

His enemies allege that the president's efforts at introducing reform are illusionary, especially after a recent election that would keep al-Assad in power for another 14 years.  Al-Assad has also scheduled parliamentary elections for the beginning of May, which are heavily stacked in his favor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Afghan Assassination Dims Peace Prospects

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The man who assassinated Afghanistan’s former-president-turned-peacemaker used an audio recording of a Taliban representative and the promise of a letter from Taliban leaders to set up the meeting in which he killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, according to Afghan officials.

The new details on how the bomber managed to convince Afghan officials to let him see Rabbani suggest he had direct access to the Taliban leadership council before he carried out the assassination. Thursday Afghanistan’s intelligence service used that information to suggest a political end to the war may not be possible -- a suggestion echoed by the U.S.’ ambassador in Kabul. Rabbani’s death “raises very serious questions as to whether the Taliban and those who support them have any real interest in reconciliation,” Ambassador Ryan Crocker said.

It’s not clear if that means the Afghan government or the United States will stop pursuing negotiations with the Taliban. U.S. officials have met a handful of times with a man they hoped was an emissary from the Taliban leadership council, but those talks have stalled, the officials say.

Before the fatal meeting, the bomber had met with Afghan officials at least half a dozen times, earning their trust and piquing their interest enough for them to call Rabbani to Kabul from a trip to Iran for an urgent meeting, Afghan officials say. President Hamid Karzai Thursday said he too had heard the audio recording that the bomber provided, which included “a couple of questions and suggestions mentioned regarding peace,” Karzai said.

Afghan and U.S. officials working on reconciliation have been hoping the Taliban would provide a list of demands that could jumpstart negotiations, and it seems they believed this man could be the one to provide that list. In addition to the audio recording -- from a brother of a former deputy Taliban minister -- the bomber also said he had a letter that he needed to personally hand over to Rabbani. Afghan officials recovered the blood-stained “letter” from the bomber’s pocket and say it was clearly a fake, including grammatical mistakes that a native speaker of Pashto -- the language spoken by Taliban’s leaders -- would not make.

Kabul’s diplomatic area is under heavy security Thursday. Rabbani will be buried Friday, on top of a hill where the Soviet army built an Olympic-size swimming pool (though never filled it with water) and where the Taliban used to execute their political enemies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to Outline Peace Plan

RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Monday that he will outline a vision for a peace plan when he addresses a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.

"I intend to speak the unvarnished truth because now more than ever what we need is peace," he said in a speech to the pro-Israel lobby.

Netanyahu was defiant in his opposition to the position that President Obama articulated in a speech last Thursday that the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, should be the basis for future negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

"Israel cannot return to the indefensible 1967 lines," he said to roaring applause from the crowd.

Several times during his speech Netanyahu was interrupted by hecklers from the anti-war group Codepink, who protested Israel's polices in the West Bank and Gaza.

Obama's position drew a sharp rebuke from the Israeli prime minister shortly after the speech last week and the tension between the two leaders was visible when they spoke to the press after their meeting in the Oval Office on Friday.

In his own speech to AIPAC on Sunday, President Obama defended his position.

"If there is a controversy, then it's not based in substance.  What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately.  I've done so because we can't afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Palestinian Pact a Blow to Mideast Peace Process?

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Fatah and Hamas have signed a Palestinian reconciliation pact, a unity deal that will pose a new challenge for Israel and the U.S., given that Hamas opposes the peace process.

The two sides made their political union official, signing an agreement in Cairo that calls for an interim government and national elections within a year. Palestinian leaders say it's the beginning of a new era in Palestinian politics, a chance, as one official said, to put their house in order.

But the unity deal is expected to set back, if not stop, the peace process. Israel says it won't negotiate with Hamas until it recognizes the Jewish state and renounces violence. The U.S. has demanded the same.  A top Palestinian official said those demands are unfair and unworkable.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US: Palestinian Leaks Cause Difficulty; Deal Still 'Possible'

File Photo: Construction of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem caused peace talks to stop between Palestinian and Israeli leaders. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Al-Jazeera TV began releasing confidential documents Sunday that reportedly show major Palestinian concessions to Israel.  The documents consisting of communication between Palestinian, Israeli and U.S. leaders cover the years 2000-2010, according to BBC News.

The U.S. State Department maintains that the leaked documents may cause some difficulty in the peace process, but making a deal is "both possible and necessary."

Recent peace talks were suspended after Israel refused to halt the construction of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the leaks will likely make the the the situation "more difficult than it already was," but said that the U.S. has spoken to all the parties involved and that the objective remains the same.

"We continue to believe that a framework agreement is both possible and necessary, so we continue to work and engage the parties as we've done throughout the process," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Palestinian Official: Israel's Peace Map a 'Joke'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has reportedly drawn up a map with provisional borders for a future Palestinian state. His map leaves all the Jewish settlements in place and transfers almost no additional land to the Palestinians. More land would be transferred through negotiations.

Lieberman reportedly believes that endorsing his map will preempt international recognition of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.

His push for an interim peace plan contradicts the Israeli government's official commitment to a permanent agreement, and it is drawing criticism from Palestinians. Calling the plan a joke, Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said the map ignores many of his people's demands.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Offers Incentives for West Bank Resettlement Ban

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israel's cabinet is reportedly considering a package of incentives offered by the United States in hopes of a construction freeze in West Bank settlements, but not in East Jerusalem.  The BBC reports the incentives include a pledge to fight international resolutions critical of Israel, several security promises and a pledge to not seek to extend the resettlement ban beyond 90 days. 

The resettlement issue could shut down the restarted peace talks with Palestinian officials that resumed in September after a 20 month interruption.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly discussed the matter with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton In the U.S. on Thursday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Sudanese Peace a Top Priority for Obama Administration

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- President Obama’s attention to the upcoming referendums in Sudan is going well beyond a high-profile meeting with movie star George Clooney, say administration officials. With less than 80 days left until the scheduled vote determining whether Africa’s largest country will split in two, senior officials said Friday that peace in Sudan is a top priority for the president.

Voter registration is slated to begin in mid-November for South Sudan’s independence referendum, but a number of issues from the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended the 20-year civil war between North and South, still need to be resolved.

Most importantly, talks negotiating a separate referendum for the oil-rich border region of Abyei over whether it would join the North or South have stalled.

The next round of negotiations will take place at the end of this month in Ethiopia, facilitated by a high-level African Union delegation led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said the administration has increased its presence in both North and South Sudan ahead of the vote and also in preparation for its aftermath. If the South votes for independence, which is widely expected, the U.S. will have a diplomatic presence in the new country.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Hillary Clinton Hopeful Some Taliban Fighters Will Agree to Peace

Photo Courtesy - The State Department(BRUSSELS) -- Even the idea of peace talks with Taliban fighters seemed out of the question a few years ago, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she hopes some of those fighters will lay down their arms and participate with the Afghan government.

"I am increasingly convinced that many of the lower level Taliban, young men who frankly went to fight for the Taliban because they got paid more than they could make anywhere else," Clinton told ABC News Thursday. "I believe that they are, in increasing numbers, laying down their arms and coming back into society."

Clinton is in Brussels, her last stop in a three-day tour of the Balkans, for a NATO session to discuss progress in Afghanistan.

Clinton noted the days of an agreed-upon battlefield surrender are gone.  "It's not World War II, where there can be a surrender on a battleship because of the kinds of enemies and the way they wage war today," she said.

"I think it's highly unlikely that the leadership of the Taliban that refused to turn over [Osama] Bin Laden in 2001 will ever reconcile," she said. "But, you know, stranger things have happened in the history of war."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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