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  • American Taliban fighter to be released early from US federal prison – official

    John Walker Lindh, the American captured while fighting for the Taliban in 2001, is to be released early from federal prison on Thursday.

    Lindh, photographed as a bearded 20-year-old when captured in Afghanistan, will leave a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana on probation after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence, Reuters said, citing a prison official.

    Now 38, Lindh is among dozens of prisoners set to be released over the next few years after being captured in Iraq and Afghanistan by US forces and convicted of terrorism-related crimes following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Some US lawmakers fear Lindh remains a security risk.

  • No ceasefire in Libya for now, Haftar tells Macron

    Speaking to French President Emmanuel Macron Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar ruled out a ceasefire and said he wanted to rid Tripoli of militias that had “infested” the UN-backed government, according to a French presidential official.

    “The distrust we see between the Libyan actors is stronger than ever today,” the official said on Wednesday, after the meeting between Macron and Haftar in Paris.

    In early April, Haftar’s Libyan National Army advanced on the capital Tripoli. The LNA is now bogged down in southern suburbs by fighters loyal to PM Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

    Macron had asked Haftar to make a public step toward a ceasefire, the official said. Haftar responded by saying that an inclusive political dialogue was necessary and he would be ready for it if the conditions for a ceasefire were in place, Reuters reported.

  • US joins Japan, S. Korea, Australia for 1st combined naval drills in W. Pacific

    US Navy ships conducted joint drills with warships from allies Japan, Australia and South Korea in their first combined exercise in the Western Pacific.

    The Pacific Vanguard exercise near the US island of Guam takes place ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan this weekend.

    The drills “joins forces from four, like-minded maritime nations that provide security throughout the Indo-Pacific,” Vice Admiral Phillip Sawyer, commander of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said on Thursday.

    The six-day exercise involves two Japanese destroyers, two Australian frigates and a destroyer from South Korea, with as many as 3,000 sailors participating, Reuters reports.

  • Saudi Arabia, UAE to attend US-led West Bank & Gaza investment meeting despite Palestinians’ boycott

    Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will participate in a conference next month in Bahrain aimed at encouraging investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The event is seen as part of US President Donald Trump’s Israel-Palestinian peace plan.

    The “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop, to be hosted on June 25-26 in cooperation with the US, has already been rebuffed by Palestinian officials and business leaders. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas have called for an Arab boycott of the meeting, Reuters said.

    The Saudi minister of economy and planning will attend, state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday. The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said Abu Dhabi would also send a delegation.

  • Bulgaria, Greece start construction of gas pipeline from Azerbaijan

    Sofia and Athens are launching the construction of a pipeline to transport gas from Azerbaijan to Bulgaria, AP said.

    At a ceremony near the border on Wednesday, the two prime ministers, Boyko Borissov and Alexis Tsipras, oversaw the formal start to construction of the 182km link between the two countries’ gas transmission systems.

    The pipeline is scheduled to become operational at the end of 2020, when Bulgaria is due to receive deliveries of Azeri gas from the Shah Deniz 2 development.

    The link is estimated to cost €220 million ($245 million) and its projected capacity will be between 3 and 5 billion cubic meters per year.

  • S. African lawmakers elect Ramaphosa as state president in 1st parliament sitting

    South African lawmakers on Wednesday elected Cyril Ramaphosa as state president in the first sitting of parliament since the ruling African National Congress (ANC) won a majority of parliamentary seats in an election earlier this month.

    Ramaphosa, who is also the leader of the ANC, was elected unopposed by lawmakers in the National Assembly ahead of his inauguration on Saturday, Reuters said.

    The ANC easily won the May 8 general election. However, its share of the vote fell, reflecting anger at corruption scandals and racial inequalities that remain entrenched a generation after the party took power.