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February 04, 2013 - Image 6

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6A - Monday, February 4, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6A - Monday, February 4, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Taliban peace talks
flounder as troops exit

Paraguayan candidate
dies in helicopter crash

Mistrust, confusion
stalls peace process
in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -
The Afghan peace effort is floun-
dering, fraught with mistrust and
confusion amongkeyplayerseven
thoughthe hard-line Talibanmil-.
itants showsigns of softening and
their reclusive, one-eyed leader
made a surprise offer to share
power in a post-war Afghanistan.
The U.S. and its allies hope
the peace process, which began
nearly two years ago, will gain
traction before most interna-
tional forces withdraw from the
country in fewer than 23 months.
But although the Taliban appear
more ready to talk than ever
before, peace talks remain elusive
because of infighting among a ris-
ing number of interlocutors - all
trying to get some kind of nego-
tiations started.
Members of the Taliban are
in contact with representatives
from 30 to 40 different countries,
according to senior U.S., Afghan
and other officials The Associat-
ed Press interviewed in Afghani-
stan and Pakistan. Moreover, the
relationship among the key play-
ers - the U.S., Afghanistan and
Pakistan- is marked by distrust
that keeps tugging momentum
away from the peace process.
Many of the officials spoke on
condition of anonymity because
they were not authorized to
speak publicly about the sensi-
tive contacts with the Taliban.
Finding a path to the negoti-
ating table will be a topic when
Afghan President Hamid Kar-
zai and Pakistan President Asif
Zardari hold a series of meetings
beginning Monday with British
Prime Minister David Cameron.
The meetings in London come
amid fresh tensions between
Kabul and its western allies.
Karzai recently warned the
West not to use peace talks as a
lever against his government. As
well, both Kabul and Washing-
ton are frustrated that Pakistan
is not monitoring the where-
abouts and activities of Taliban
prisoners it released in recent
months. Miffed by the criticism,

Pakistan says it freed the prison-
ers at the request of the Afghan
government and doesn't have the
resources to keep tabs on them.
No one in either Pakistan
or Afghanistan seems to know
where the dozens of released
prisoners have gone. Last week,
the Taliban issued a statement
by freed former Taliban Justice
Minister Mullah Nooruddin
Turabi on behalf of all the prison-
ers - an indication that at least
some might have rejoined the
ranks of the insurgency.
"There were no preconditions
to their release and we aregetting
criticism from our own peoplp
inside Afghanistan about that and
it is valid criticism," said Ismail
Qasemyar, a senior member of the
Afghan High Peace Council.
The peace council, which Kar-
zai set up to carry out peace nego-
tiations, handed Pakistan the list
of prisoners, including Turabi,
that it wanted freed. They have
also asked for the release of the
Taliban's former second in com-
mand, Mullah Abdul Ghani Bara-
dar, but Washington has urged
Pakistan not to release him, U.S.
and Afghan officials said.
For its part, the United States
has tried to accelerate the peace
process by working with Britain,
Norway and Germany to reach
out to the Taliban, said a senior
Western diplomat familiar with
the negotiations. Both France and
Tokyo have hosted meetings that
have been attended by Afghan
officials, opposition leaders and
the Taliban, although the Taliban
insist their participation should
not be misinterpreted as negotia-
One senior U.S. official said the
process is so nascent and egos so
fragile that it's like negotiating a
minefield. A European diplomat
told the AP that there areso many
backdoor talks going on that it's
hard to keep track of who is talk-
ing to whom.
This week, Karzai said he
wanted an end to all these talks.
Speaking at a water management
conference in the Afghan capi-
tal, Karzai expressed suspicion
that the peace process was being
hijacked by the West to strength-
en his opponents and undermine
his government.

Karzai's spokesman, Aimal
Faizi, told The AP inan interview
on the sprawling palace grounds
in Kabul that the president was
frustrated by what he perceives
are attempts by his political oppo-
nents and the West, including the
United States, to use the peace
process-to lay the groundwork for
a post-2014 Afghanistan led by
those hand-picked bythem.
This latest flap between Kar-
zai and the West could halt or at
least delay the official opening
of a Taliban office in the Middle
Eastern state of Qatar. The office
is intended to give the Taliban
an address from which they can
conduct peace talks. Faizi said
Karzai supports the office "in
principle," with some conditions.
"This office should be used
only as an address for talks
between the Afghan government
and the Taliban," Faizi said.
"This office should not be used
for any other purpose."
Faizi also said the president
wants the Taliban to publicly
announce that they will negoti-
ate peace only with the Afghan
High Peace Council. So far, the
Taliban have resisted, although
officials close to the president
say privately that they appear
to be softening their hard-line
Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah
Mujahid, seemed uncompromis-
ing when he spoke to The AP.
"There is no change in the
policy of the Islamic Emirate of
not talking to the Karzai gov-
ernment," he said "The Karzai
regime is powerless and installed
by others. Real parties to the
conflict are those who have com-
mitted aggression."
But still the Taliban have
shown signs of moderating their
positions in recent months.
According to several West-
ern officials, who are involved
or knowledgeable about the
process, the most telling sign of
flexibility came in a statement
issued late last year by Tali-
ban leader Mullah Mohammed
Omar. In the statement marking
the Islamic holy holiday of Eid
al-Adha, Omar for the first time
offered to share power. He also
said he had no interest in start-
ing a civil war.

hopeful's political
career ended
ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP)
- Paraguayan presidential can-
didate Lino Cesar Oviedo has
been killed in ahelicopter crash,
authorities said Sunday, ending
a dramatic political career that
included coups and repeated
attempts to lead this impover-
ished 6.5 million-person coun-
Oviedo was returning with
his bodyguard from a politi-
cal rally in northern Paraguay
Saturday night when his pilot
encountered bad weather. All
three were killed in the crash,
said Johnny Villalba, a spokes-
man for Paraguay's airport
Defense Minister Maria Liz
Garcia said she traveled to the
scene Sunday with Oviedo's
daughter, congresswoman Fabi-
ola Oviedo, and confirmed that
the helicopter "disintegrated."
"One resident who lives
near the accident scene said
they heard a single explosion
Saturday night," she added.
"The aircraft ended up disinte-
grated and out of respect to the
families of the victims, I won't
release details about the cadav-
The air traffic control tower
in the provincial city of Con-
cepcion received the pilot's last
communication, Garcia said - a
brief message that they were
changing course due to a storm
at 9 p.m. local time.
Lino Oviedo, 69, was running
in April's elections as leader of
Paraguay's third-largest oppo-
sition party, the National Union
of Ethical Citizens.
A retired general and former
army chief, Oviedo had tried
for years to take the helm of his
nation, and not always through
democratic means.
As a colonel in 1989, Oviedo
had been tasked with taking
prisoner none other than Alfre-
do Stroessner, the feared dic-
tator who had ruled Paraguay
since 1954.
That bloody military coup

sent Stroessner into Brazilian
exile, but did little to dimin-
ish the hold on Paraguayan
politics that his Colorado Party
had cemented. Oviedo's role in
the ouster was rewarded with
a meteoric rise through the
ranks of the army.
A diminutive cavalry offi-
cer, only 5-foot-3 inches (1.62
meters) tall, Oviedo was pro-
moted to brigadier general
three months after capturing
Stroessner. By 1992, he had
become a division general,
and then President Juan Car-
los Wasmosy named him army
Membership in the Colorado
Party had been a requirement
for any officer during the dicta-
torship, but Oviedo's constant
involvement in party politics
generated frictions with the
In April 1996, a short-lived
coup in which Oviedo partici-
pated and other maneuverings
led to his firing and forced
retirement. He ran as a can-
didate to succeed Wasmosy,
winning the Colorado Party
primary ahead of the May 1998
presidential elections, but was
then convicted in a military
court for his role in the coup,
ending his candidacy.
His would-be vice presi-
dent, Raul Cubas, instead won
the election and immediately
ordered the release of Oviedo,
despite the judiciary's rulings.
Oviedo had an irrepressible
desire to govern, and quickly
became known as the power
behind Cubas, angering other
political leaders.
Cubas' vice president, Luis
Maria Argana, was assassinat-
ed in 1999, and the slain man's
relatives and followers accused
Oviedo of being the master-
mind. Cubas resigned in the
resulting turmoil and Oviedo
fled the country and renounced
his Colorado Party membership,
founding the UNACE party.
Facing Paraguayan arrest
orders in the Wasmosy case,
Oviedo remained a political ref-
ugee in Brazil until 2004, when
he returned and was convicted.
The Supreme Court later
exonerated Oviedo after mili-

tary officers denied there had
been a coup attempt, freeing
him to run for president in 2008.
He came in third, splitting the
vote that gave former Catholic
bishop Fernando Lugo the pres-
idency and ended 60 years of
one-party rule by the Colorado
Oviedo was born in the small
village of Juan de Mena, out-
side Asuncion, on Sept. 23, 1943.
He graduated from the nation's
military academy, and married
Raquel Marin, an Argentine,
with whom he had three chil-
dren. Oviedo also had other
children with two Paraguayan
women before his marriage.
Oviedo's family now main-
tains his legacy in his UNACE
party: His children Fabiola and
Ariel are deputies in Congress,
and his nephew, Lino Cesar
Oviedo Sanchez, is a senator.
Oviedo "had, an enormous
capacity for work. At 5 a.m.
he was in his office, receiving
people until midnight, usually
the poor, who came to him from
their villages seeking help," for-
mer Sen. Enrique Gonzalez, a
longtime political ally, told The
Associated Press.
"He was an individual with
great charisma, he spoke (Par-
aguay's indigenous language
of) Guarani perfectly, and he
wove jokes in Guarani into his
speeches. He had the spiritual
strength to put up with being
persecuted. His military prepa-
ration enabled him to put up
with extreme situations. In
December, he even managed to
come out of a Brazilian hospi-
tal with two stents after a heart
operation with more enthusi-
asm than ever."
U.S. Undersecretary of State
Peter Romero had declared after
the Wasmosy affair that Oviedo
"lacks democratic credentials."
Gonzalez took issue with that
label, noting that Oviedo also
"founded a political party and
participated in elections, build-
ing it into Paraguay's third-larg-
est political force." The blaze
was the deadliest in Brazil since
at least 1961; when a fire that
swept through a circus. killed
503 people in Niteroi, Rio de

Email: dailydisplay@gmail.com

RELEASE DATE- Monday, February 4, 2013
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis '

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