Top news: U.S. diplomats seeking a political settlement with the Taliban ahead of NATO's 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan achieved a diplomatic breakthrough Tuesday with the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar and the announcement that negotiations would begin Thursday, reviving a peace process that has been stalled for the past 18 months.
But the plan quickly hit a snag. Apparently angered over the lack of preconditions for the talks, President Hamid Karzai broke off negotiations with the United States over a security treaty governing the U.S. military presence there beyond 2014. "In view of the contradictions between acts and the statements made by the United States of America in regard to the peace process, the Afghan government suspended the negotiations," a government statement announced.
Speaking at a G-8 summit in Northern Ireland, President Obama called the resumption of talks a "an important first step toward reconciliation" but cautioned that he anticipates "there will be a lot of bumps in the road."
The announcement that negotiations will resume comes on the heels of the transfer of responsibility for security across Afghanistan to its national army.
Brazil: Protesters in Brazil returned to the streets on Tuesday night to protest rising inflation, increased public transportation costs, and the large sums plowed into big public projects ahead of the World Cup and Olympic Games. In a conciliatory gesture, President Dilma Rousseff has embraced the protesters, saying that "the greatness of yesterday’s demonstrations were proof of the energy of our democracy," but the government also announced that it would deploy a national security force to five cities after fresh clashes between protesters and riot police.
- The leaders of the G-8 endorsed a negotiated end to the Syrian civil war but failed to include any mention of President Bashar al-Assad and whether he should remain in power.
- The civil war in Syria pushed the total number of refugees and internally displaced persons to an 18-year-high of 45.2 million people, according to the U.N.
- A suicide bombing targeting a Shiite mosque in Baghdad killed 37 people, the latest attack in a string of violence fueling sectarian tensions.
- The operator of the damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan, revealed that high levels of toxic radioactive substance, Strontium-90, has been found in the groundwater near the plant.
- China completed a phone and Internet monitoring scheme in Tibet to combat what state media callled "rumors."
- A suicide bombing struck a funeral in northern Pakistan, killing 28, including a provincial legislator.
- In a speech before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin today, President Obama plans to seek further reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arms stockpiles.
- Turkish police arrested dozens of people in several different cities as part of its ongoing crackdown on anti-government protests.
- The Greek government is in talks to end a political crisis triggered by the decision to shutter the state broadcaster.
- President Obama defended NSA spying programs during a news conference in Berlin by arguing that the agency's efforts have saved lives.
- During testimony before the House, Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, said he may be willing to relinquish some control over his agency's intelligence gathering efforts.
- The Chilean Supreme Court approved the extradition of an Argentine judge alleged to have been complicit in human rights abuses during that country's military dictatorship.
- Al Shabaab militants attacked the U.N. compound in Mogadishu, the first such attack in years.
- Gunmen riding atop motorcycles killed 48 people in a raid on a village in northern Nigeria.
- Mali's government signed a peace agreement with Tuareg rebels.
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