1. US, TALIBAN CLOSE TO ‘REDUCTION IN VIOLENCE’ AGREEMENT
ISLAMABAD: The Taliban have issued an ultimatum to Washington after weeks of talks with a U.S. peace envoy, demanding a reply on their offer of a seven-day reduction of violence in Afghanistan.
The development comes as Washington said late Tuesday that an agreement on the insurgents’ “reduction of violence” offer was days away.
There was no immediate response from Washington on the ultimatum, which appeared designed to focus the negotiations on Taliban demands.
2. CHINA’S COMMUNIST PARTY FACES ITS BIGGEST CRISIS SINCE SARS
BEIJING: China’s ruling Communist Party needs to make a politically fraught decision.
Admit a viral outbreak isn’t under control and cancel this year’s highest-profile official event.
Or bring 3,000 legislators to Beijing next month and risk fueling public anger at the government’s handling of the disease.
The party was already facing criticism of its heavy-handed censorship, on display during the outbreak, and other social controls under President Xi Jinping.
Now, the new disease named COVID-19 has become the party’s biggest crisis since China’s last outbreak of a mystery disease in 2002-2003.
3. CHINA’S NEW VIRUS CASES FALL AGAIN
BEIJING: China on Wednesday reported another drop in the number of new cases of a viral infection and 97 more deaths, pushing the total dead past 1,100 as postal services worldwide.
The National Health Commission said 2,015 new cases had been reported over the last 24 hours, declining for a second day.
The additional deaths raised the mainland toll to 1,113.
Two people have died elsewhere, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.