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British PM discusses Afghan peace in Pakistan

Posted by Nuttapon_S On June - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

David Cameron meets PM and president in Islamabad with aims to catalyse stalled talks on Afghanistan as troops withdraw.

Helping to bring stability to Afghanistan would be in Pakistan’s interest, British Prime Minister David Cameron told his counterpart during a two-day stay in Islamabad.

“I profoundly believe that a stable, prosperous, peaceful, democratic Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest just as a strong, stable, peaceful, prosperous and democratic Pakistan is in Afghanistan’s interest,” Cameron said on Sunday. “And I know that you [Sharif] and President Karzai will work together towards those ends.”

Cameron arrived in Pakistan for talks with newly-elected Nawaz Sharif and President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday, focusing on the Afghan peace process.

The British leader had come from Afghanistan, backing talks with the Taliban after his top general said the West missed a chance to strike a peace deal 10 years ago.

For his part, Sharif agreed, adding that the peace process should be “inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led.”

He also used the opportunity to “assure” Cameron “of our firm resolve to promote the shared objective of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, to which the 3 million Afghan refugees currently living in Pakistan can return with honour and dignity,”

Cameron, the first foreign government leader to visit Islamabad since Sharif took office in June after winning landmark elections in May, also met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Farhatullah Babar, a presidential spokesman, said Zardari “emphasised that Pakistan all along has maintained a constructive approach and believes that dialogue and reconciliation was the only war forward towards ensuring durable peace in Afghanistan”.

“The president welcomed efforts being made for finding a peaceful solution to the long drawn conflict in Afghanistan. He expressed the hope that the efforts made would also take into account legitimate concerns of all the stakeholders,” Babar said in a statement.

Taliban talks

Cameron visited British troops in the Afghan southern province of Helmand earlier on Saturday and met President Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan and international powers try to revive peace efforts that recently collapsed in ignominy.

In February, Cameron hosted Zardari and Karzai to agree on a peace roadmap with the Taliban.

A Taliban office in Qatar that opened on June 18 was meant to foster talks but instead triggered a diplomatic bust-up when the Taliban used the title of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” from their 1996-2001 reign.

Karzai, furious that the office was being styled as an embassy for a government-in-exile, broke off bilateral security talks with the Americans and threatened to boycott any peace process altogether.

Only hours after the Qatar office opened, a Taliban rocket attack killed four Americans on the largest military base in Afghanistan.

Days later, a suicide squad targeted the presidential palace and a CIA office in the most audacious assault in Kabul in years.

Peace talks with the Taliban were previously anathema to many Western leaders, with Cameron’s predecessor Gordon Brown vowing in 2007 that Britain “will not enter into any negotiations with these people”.

Apple trademarks new FaceTime logo, settles on green

Posted by Nuttapon_S On June - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

There’s certainly been a lot of brouhaha surrounding the new design language Apple introduced for iOS 7 at WWDC. Some (ourselves included) feel it’s modern and fresh while others loathe the brighter palette and simpler, flatter icons. A lot can change between now and the launch of iOS 7 this fall, but if Apple’s recent trademark filing is any indication, FaceTime‘s new logo / icon — which consists of a stylized white video camera inside a rounded-off green square — fits squarely (ahem) within the aesthetic we saw on stage in San Francisco. Of course, companies often trademark logos, so we can’t really say this comes as much of a surprise, either. If you’re curious where Jony Ive might have found his inspiration for the pastel colors and thin lines showcased in iOS 7’s iconography, check out Otl Aicher’s design work for the 1972 Olympics in the “more coverage” link after the break.

Ministers granted royal audience

Posted by Nuttapon_S On June - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Sunday took a photo with some ministers of the Yingluck 5 administration.

Seen on the front row was Paveena Hongsakul, second from right, who is highly expected to lead the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

Ministers of the entire Cabinet were today granted the royal audience to take an oath of allegiance before His Majesty the King.

At 6pm, the official list of ministers of the Yingluck 5 government is not yet available.

No law needed to safeguard religion: Suu Kyi

Posted by Rattana_S On June - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Aung San Suu Kyi has countered calls that Buddhism should be defended with laws – including rules against interfaith marriage – saying worshippers’ faith was the main safeguard for religion.

During a break in the new session of parliament on Tuesday, Suu Kyi was asked by a reporter “whether she thought a law was needed to safeguard Buddhism because it was now under pressure”.

The opposition leader responded that people’s belief was crucial in safeguarding the religion, adding that no thing or person could damage a particular religion if devotees had strong faith in it. Suu Kyi also spoke about Time magazine’s July 1 cover story, headlined “Buddhist Terror” and focused on the role of extremist Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu in stoking anti-Muslim sentiment that led to recent deadly communal riots.

After expressing her sorrow that the story had linked Buddhism with terrorism, Suu Kyi went on to say that, as religion was integral to social affairs, politicians must take it into account when forming policy.

Communal violence had hit different parts of the country because there was no rule of law and authorities lacked transparency when addressing issues of religion, she added.

Extremist monk Wirathu, as head of the 969 Movement, is leading the calls for legislation to “protect” Buddhism in the face of what he says is a threat from the country’s minority-Muslim population.

Wirathu, 48, has been open and unapologetic about his role in stoking Buddhist extremism that culminated in a wave of anti-Muslim violence resulting in the deaths of more than 200 people and displacement of some 150,000 from their homes in recent months.

He has proposed that interfaith marriages be outlawed.

“Muslims are like the African carp. They breed quickly and they are very violent and they eat their own kind. Even though they are minorities here, we are suffering under the burden they bring us,” he told the US based news website GlobalPost last week.

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