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After Afghan ceasefire gamble, prospects rise for US-Taliban talks

KABUL/WASHINGTON: Prospects have risen for negotiations between the Taliban and the United States after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called a ceasefire and allowed militants to roam into cities in a gamble to encourage peace talks. The Taliban, ousted from power in 2001 by US-led troops, insist that any negotiations with what it calls the “puppet” Afghan government on a peace plan can begin only after talks with the United States about withdrawing foreign forces. Analysts and Western diplomats said Ghani’s offer to…

IMF raises Saudi Arabian growth prospects over high oil prices

DUBAI: The International Monetary Fund on Monday raised its growth projection for the deficit-hit Saudi economy on the back of higher oil prices but retained its estimates for the region. In its World Economic Outlook update, the IMF said the Saudi economy — which shrank 0.7 percent last year — is expected to grow by 1.6 percent in 2018, up 0.5 percent on its October estimates. The Saudi economy is also projected to grow by 2.2 percent next year, up 0.6 percent on the previous estimate, it said. The IMF however…