Biden, in visit, offers answers on Taliban

Vice President Biden sought Wednesday to reassure Indians who have voiced concerns about a possible political settlement with the Afghan Taliban, saying the insurgents would have to give up ties to al-Qaeda and accept the Afghan constitution.

Biden, seeking to shore up Indo-U.S. ties that have cooled in recent months over trade disputes and intellectual property rights, also urged India to shun protectionism, calling for bold decisions to strengthen its economy.

India has invested billions of dollars in Afghanistan since the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001 and is worried that reconciliation would embolden militant groups — some of which are backed by rival Pakistan — and threaten its interests.

“I know there are questions about the U.S. position on reconciliation with the Taliban,” Biden said in a speech at one of Mumbai’s two main stock exchanges. “I want to make clear: We have always been committed to an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process that needs three outcomes: that the Taliban must break with al-Qaeda permanently, stop the violence, accept the Afghan constitution and guarantee equal treatment for women.”

— Reuters

Attacks in Baghdad, north leave 17 dead

Insurgents assaulted a police headquarters in northern Iraq early Wednesday, killing nine policemen in one of a string of attacks that left at least 17 people dead as the country grapples with a growing surge of violence.

The attack took place in the town of Bashmaya, outside the city of Mosul, which has been one of the major flash points in the bloodshed that has engulfed the country since April and left more than 3,000 people dead.

Also Wednesday, a car bomb exploded as an army patrol passed by outside the northern city of Kirkuk, killing an officer and a soldier, police said. In Baghdad, police found three bullet-riddled corpses across the city, and in the evening, a bomb exploded in the religiously mixed northern neighborhood of Qahira, killing three more people.

In Paris, meanwhile, the international police agency Interpol issued an alert for the Middle East over the escape of al-Qaeda members and others from two Iraqi prisons Sunday, saying the jailbreaks pose “a major threat to global security.”

— Associated Press

Pakistani spy agency attacked, 3 killed: Militants armed with guns and explosives attacked a compound housing a regional office of Pakistan’s top spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, killing three people and wounding dozens, officials said. Initially, a suicide bomber rammed a car filled with explosives into a wall of the government compound in Sukkur district in southern Sindh province. A second suicide bomber blew himself up inside the compound, while three militants battled security forces with guns and hand grenades, the officials said. No group immediately asserted responsibility, but suspicion is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban.

Mexican mayor arrested for faking own death: Oaxaca state prosecutors said they have arrested a man who faked his death to beat a rape charge, then later got elected mayor of a village in southern Mexico. Leninguer Carballido, who was found hiding in a heavily fortified room at his family’s home on the outskirts of Oaxaca City, was arrested on charges of using fake documents and making false statements.

Report says 220,000 have died in Colombia conflict: A much-awaited report by a Colombian government-created historical commission says the country’s long internal conflict has claimed at least 220,000 lives since
1958, with civilian noncombatants accounting for more than four of every five deaths. Most of the deaths occurred since the 1980s.

— From news services