Democratic Hawaii Rep. Gabbard running for president in 2020

In this July 26, 2016 file photo, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (AP)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Democratic Hawaii Rep. Gabbard running for president in 2020

  • Gabbard was one of the most prominent lawmakers to back Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary

WASHINGTON: Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has announced that she is running for president in 2020.
Gabbard said in a CNN interview slated to air Saturday night that she will be formally announcing her candidacy within the next week.
The 37-year-old Iraq War veteran is the first Hindu elected to Congress and the first member born in the US territory of American Samoa. She has visited early primary and caucus states New Hampshire and Iowa in recent months and has written a memoir that’s due to be published in May.
Gabbard is joining what is expected to be a crowded Democratic field. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has already formed an exploratory committee and is moving quickly with trips across early primary states. California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are all weighing their own presidential bids and are expected to announce decisions in the upcoming weeks. Former Obama administration housing chief Julian Castro plans to announce his run for the presidency on Saturday.
Gabbard’s run would not be without controversy. In 2016, she alarmed fellow Democrats when she met with Donald Trump during his transition to president and later when she took a secret trip to Syria and met with President Bashar Assad, who has been accused of war crimes and genocide. She questioned whether he was responsible for a chemical attack on civilians that killed dozens and led the US to attack a Syrian air base.
She said she doesn’t regret the trip and considers it important to meet with adversaries if “you are serious about pursuing peace.” She also noted that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was based on faulty intelligence and said that she wanted to understand the evidence of the Syria attack.
Gabbard was one of the most prominent lawmakers to back Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. Her endorsement came in dramatic fashion, with her resigning as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee to express her support.
Asked last year whether she would still consider running if Sanders ran, Gabbard said Sanders is a friend and she didn’t know what his plans were.
“I’m thinking through how I can best be of service and I’ll make my decision based on that,” she said.


Taliban says talks with the US enter fourth day in Qatar

Updated 24 January 2019
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Taliban says talks with the US enter fourth day in Qatar

  • Washington has been stepping up efforts for a peace deal that could pave the way for the Taliban's participation in the next government
  • Washington wants the insurgents to enter talks with the Afghan government, but they have long refused

KABUL: Negotiations between the Taliban and US officials in Qatar entered a fourth straight day Thursday, according to the insurgents, as the two sides pursue a potential deal to bring an end to Afghanistan's 17-year conflict.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed to AFP that "discussions are still ongoing".
"We will talk in detail later when we reach agreement," the spokesman added.
Washington has been stepping up efforts for a peace deal that could pave the way for the Taliban's participation in the next government.
"Both sides are discussing the various aspects of the US troops' withdrawal," a senior Taliban commander based in an unknown location in Pakistan told AFP, adding that a statement could be released later in the day or on Friday.
The Pakistan foreign ministry also confirmed that talks were ongoing between the two sides. However, there was no immediate comment from the US embassy or NATO in Kabul.
The US said Tuesday it had resumed talks with the insurgents in Qatar, where special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was meeting Taliban representatives.
Rahimullah Yusufzai, an expert on the Taliban, said the continuation of the talks represented "unprecedented" progress.
"I have never seen anything like this before," he said.
"This is the first serious effort. And it has continued since July... they have agreed to disagree and continued to meet. That's why it's unprecedented."
Talks have primarily focused on three major points: the withdrawal of US troops, a vow to prevent Afghan soil from being a base for attacks on other countries, and a potential ceasefire, according to Yusufzai.
Washington wants the insurgents to enter talks with the Afghan government, but they have long refused, denouncing Kabul as a US puppet.
The talks come after Khalilzad spent the weekend in Pakistan where he met with Prime Minister Imran Khan as part of a regional tour that saw the envoy shuttling between India, China and Afghanistan.
The US is not the only country engaged in talks with the militants.
Russia and Iran have held meetings with the Taliban in recent months, while China has also made overtures. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan are all participating in the US efforts.
"Pakistan has influence with the group, and the Russians also are somewhat supporting the Taliban," said Ateequllah Amarkhail, a Kabul-based military analyst.
"The meetings will continue in the future," he added.
The resumption of talks comes over a month after President Donald Trump ordered a halving of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan as he voices eagerness to end America's longest-ever war, launched in 2001 after the September 11 attacks.