US Pacific deployment
The United States air force is sending dozens of F-22 fighter jets to the Pacific amid growing tensions with China. The US media say the country is deploying nearly 25 raptors for an exercise in Guam and Tinian Islands this month. That accounts for 25-percent of all mission F-22 aircraft in the US fleet. Military officials say the US has never deployed this amount of combat war planes in its Pacific Air Forces area of operation. They say the deployment would send an immediate message to China, especially at a time when the two countries are at odds over a variety of issues, including Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Afghan peace talks
Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban have launched fresh peace talks in the Qatari capital, Doha. Several high-ranking officials, including former president Hamid Karzai and head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, are attending the negotiations. The spokesman for the government’s negotiating team said Kabul expects the negotiators to make headway with the talks in a short time and reach a result. He expressed hope the talks will lead to a lasting peace in the country. The negotiations come as Taliban militants have stepped up their attacks on cities and villages and captured a vast swath of territory. The Afghan military has been engaged in fierce fighting with the militants in some areas to try and retake control of the regions, including a southern border crossing with Pakistan.
Flooding in Europe
The death toll from devastating floods in Western Europe has climbed to 153 amid a rescue operation to save hundreds of more people still trapped or missing. Germany is the worst hit country where police say 133 people have so far died as a result of the disaster. The flooding, caused by heavy rain, have also kill 20 in Belgium. Troops and firefighters are searching through rubble for dozens of people believed to be missing in Germany. The deluge has also submerged homes in Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The cost of damage in Europe worst floods in decades is estimated several billion euros. Efforts are under way to restore gas, electricity and telephone services.