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After more than 40 years at war, one of Afghanistan's most notorious warlords, designated a "global terrorist" by the United States and blacklisted by the United Nations along with Osama bin Laden, wants to come out of the shadows. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, now in his late 60s, says he wants a "real and fair peace" but with conditions the Kabul government is unlikely to even contemplate, such as the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan and new elections in 2016.

Two Palestinians rammed their cars into Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank on Friday, injuring seven, before being killed, raising this week's death toll from Palestinian-Israeli violence to 11. Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army gunfire, one seriously, during clashes in the West Bank and along the Gaza Strip's border with the Jewish state. In the first attack, a Palestinian drove into two soldiers at a bus station near Kfar Adumim settlement, north-east of Jerusalem, and was shot dead, police said.
Iran expects medical tests to establish within 48 hours if a high-ranking diplomat died on pilgrimage in the stampede at the hajj in Saudi Arabia, following contrasting accounts about his demise. Ghazanfar Roknabadi, 49, a former ambassador to Lebanon, was initially reported as being among 464 Iranian pilgrims killed in the hajj's worst-ever tragedy in September.
Turkish Presi-dent Tayyip Erdogan war-ned Moscow not to "play with fire" on Friday, citing reports Turkish businessmen had been detained in Russia, while Moscow responded with tighter visa regulations. Relations between the former Cold War antagonists are at their lowest in recent memory after Turkey shot down a Russian jet near the Syrian border on Tuesday. Russia has threatened economic retaliation, a response Erdogan has dismissed as emotional and indecorous.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced funding for a Commonwealth counter-extremism unit as the organisation's summit in Malta got under way Friday.Cameron, who joined other heads of government from the 53-country gathering for the first of three days of talks on the Mediterranean island, said sharing expertise would help defeat the "extremist scourge". Combating radicalisation and extremist violence is one of the main issues expected on the table at the biennial summit.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat unveiled Friday a new $1 billion Commonwealth Green Finance Facility to support environmental projects within the 53-nation bloc as the race against climate change intensifies. The CGFF will start with a working group, bringing together representatives from countries including Australia, Britain, Canada, Malaysia and Nigeria, and financial companies including HSBC and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the facility said in a statement.
The Commonwealth appointed its first female secretary-general on Friday when leaders chose Dominica-born lawyer Patricia Scotland to take over the running of the 53-country organisation. At their biennial summit in Malta, Commonwealth heads of government chose Scotland, a former attorney general to the British government, to take over from Indian diplomat Kamalesh Sharma on April 1, 2016. "I am incredibly proud to be the first woman to hold the post of secretary-general," Baroness Scotland of Asthal told a press conference.
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