U.S., Afghanistan reach pact on Parwan transfer
WASHINGTON — The U.S. has reached an agreement with the Afghanistan government to transfer the Parwan Detention Facility to Afghan control, the Pentagon said Saturday, two weeks after negotiations broke down over whether the U.S. would have the power to block the release of some detainees.
According to a senior U.S. official, a key element to the agreement is that the Afghans can invoke a procedure that ensures prisoners considered dangerous would not be released from the detention center. The agreement also includes a provision that allows the two sides to work together to resolve any differences. The official lacked authorization to discuss the details of the agreement publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Transfer of the Parwan detention center on Monday is critical to the ongoing effort to gradually shift control of the country’s security to Afghans as the U.S. and allies move toward the full withdrawal of combat troops by the end of 2014.
Afghans demanded control of the center, but U.S. officials have worried that the most threatening detainees would be freed once the U.S. transferred control. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with Afghan President Hamid Karzai Saturday as officials finalized the agreement after days of intense negotiations.
The senior official said U.S. and Afghan officials who are familiar with the detainees would meet to assess the potential danger of their release to coalition forces. The official said more senior level officials could be brought in if there are disagreements but that to date the two sides have been able to agree without bringing in those higher authorities.
Self-exiled Russian oligarch and Putin rival found dead in England
LONDON — Boris Berezovsky, a self-exiled and outspoken former Russian oligarch who had a bitter falling out with Russian President Vladimir Putin, was found dead Saturday in southeast England. He was 67.
Thames Valley police said his death was being treated as unexplained. They would not directly identify him, but when asked about him by name they read a statement saying they were investigating the death of a 67-year-old man at a property in Ascot, a town 25 miles west of London.
A mathematician-turned-Mercedes dealer, Berezovsky amassed his wealth during Russia’s chaotic privatization of state assets in the early 1990s. In return for backing former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, he gained political clout and opportunities to buy state assets at knockdown prices.
But the one-time Kremlin powerbroker fell out with Putin and sought political asylum in Britain in the early 2000s. He has lived in the U.K. ever since.
Last year, the exiled businessman was ordered to pay $53.3 million in legal costs to fellow Russian Roman Abramovich after losing a multimillion-dollar legal battle against the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club.
Cyprus talks to continue; no deal yet
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus officials and international representatives ended torturous negotiation in the early hours today with no agreement on a plan to raise money the island nation needs to qualify for a bailout package. Talks are set to resume later today in Brussels, but time is running out: Failure would mean Cyprus could declare bankruptcy in just two days and possibly have to exit the eurozone.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Finance Minister Michalis Sarris will travel to the Belgian capital early today. A viable plan must be cemented before finance ministers from the 17 countries that use the euro currency meet in Brussels in the evening.
Cyprus has been told it must raise 5.8 billion euros ($7.5 billion) in order to secure 10 billion euros in rescue loans from other European countries that use the single currency, as well as from the IMF.
The IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission — known as the troika — will determine whether the plan the Cypriots devise will meet the requirements for any international bailout package. Then, the plan is to be presented to the eurozone finance ministers for final approval.
The European Central Bank has said it will stop providing emergency funding to Cyprus’ banks after Monday if no new plan is in place. Without its support, the banks would collapse on Tuesday, pushing the country toward bankruptcy and a potential exit from the 17-nation bloc that uses the euro currency.
Cyberattack didn’t come from China, S. Korea says
SEOUL — South Korean officials said a cyberattack that froze networks at broadcasters and banks this week came from a domestic source and not China, contradicting an initial conclusion.
The malware code was from an Internet Protocol address at Nonghyup Bank, one of the banks affected, that may have originated from abroad, the Korean Communications Commission said in a statement. The agency said Thursday the code came from China, amid speculation North Korea was responsible for the March 20 attack that affected around 32,000 servers.
Confusion over the source of the attack highlights growing threats to cybersecurity, which a U.S. assessment this month listed as the intelligence community’s top concern, ahead of terrorism. The breach occurred as North Korea threatens preemptive nuclear strikes against the United States and South Korea, raising regional tensions.
By wire sources