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Afghanistan reaffirms support for peace talks with Taliban

Afghanistan

Support for peace talks remains

Afghanistan's government reaffirmed support Sunday for possible talks with its Taliban foes, but demanded full explanations on how the group was allowed to raise its flag in Qatar and display other symbols that have stalled the U.S.-led peace effort.

The ongoing dispute over the Taliban compound in Doha — which the Afghan government said appeared as something akin to an embassy in exile instead of a political outpost when it opened — underscores the extreme difficulties in just trying to launch dialogue after nearly 12 years of war in Afghanistan.

Under pressure from Qatar, the Taliban lowered the flag and removed a sign bearing the name of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which the movement used during its five-year rule that ended in 2001.

The main U.S. envoy trying to spearhead the talks, James Dobbins, met with Qatari officials in Doha and planned to travel to Kabul today.

Canada

Thousands return home as rivers recede

About 65,000 residents of Calgary were being allowed to return to their homes Sunday to assess the damage from flooding that has left Alberta's largest city awash in debris and dirty water.

Some were returning to properties spared by flooding, but others were facing extensive repairs to homes and businesses.

About 75,000 people had to leave at the height of the crisis as the Elbow and Bow rivers surged over their banks Thursday night. Three bodies have been recovered since the flooding began in southern Alberta and a fourth person was still missing.

"We've turned a corner, but we are still in a state of emergency," Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. "Our hearts and thought and prayers are with our colleagues downstream."

Spain

Baby rescued from drains; mother held

A 26-year-old woman has been arrested in the eastern Spanish city of Alicante on suspicion of attempting to murder her newborn baby who had to be rescued from inside a building's drains, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

The ministry said the 2-day old boy, who still had his umbilical cord attached and was found wrapped in plastic bags, could have been trapped for 40 hours at a point where the building's drains converged in a courtyard.

A neighbor had alerted firefighters at 2 a.m. Sunday to what was originally thought to be a meowing cat trapped inside the drains, the ministry said.

Last month rescue workers in China had to extract a newborn baby who had become stuck in a sewer pipe after its mother had tried to give birth in secret.

Colorado

Wildfire near retreat grows as winds gust

A colossal wildfire near the summer retreat of South Fork in southern Colorado continues to be driven by winds and fueled by dead trees in a drought-stricken area, authorities said Sunday.

The weather has prevented fire crews from making progress on the blaze, which grew overnight to 108 square miles, up from 100 on Saturday. No structures have been lost in the fire, and no injuries have been reported.

New York

Twinkies to be back on shelves on July 15

Hostess is betting on a sweet comeback for Twinkies when they return to shelves next month.

The company that went bankrupt after a fight with its unionized workers last year is under new owners and has a leaner structure. It says it plans to have Twinkies and other snack cakes back on shelves starting July 15.

The new owners, Metropoulos & Co., which teamed up with Apollo Global Management to buy a variety of Hostess snacks, says the cakes will taste the same.

Elsewhere

India: Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in India on Sunday for a two-day visit designed to solidify his commitment to what President Barack Obama has called one of the "defining partnerships" of the 21st century, and to keep the growth of trade and foreign policy cooperation on an upward trajectory.

Spain: Police have arrested 84 people and dismantled two criminal gangs accused of importing and distributing sports doping substances across Spain, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

Times wires

Afghanistan reaffirms support for peace talks with Taliban 06/23/13 [Last modified: Sunday, June 23, 2013 9:47pm]
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