White House welcomes release of two Western hostages in Afghanistan Nov 20, 2019 0 527 12345 AFPWashingtonThe White Hous e on Tuesday welcomed the release of an American and an Australian hostage in Afghanistan, saying both men had been “successfully recovered” and were receiving US medical care.“We pray for the full recovery of both men, who endured significant hardship during their captivity, and wish them well as they reunite with their loved ones in the near future,” Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks were handed over to US forces by the Taliban on Tuesday in a successful swap for three high-ranking insurgent prisoners that could boost peace talks.“We thank the Afghan government for its actions, in the spirit of our partnership that enabled the freeing of the hostages,” Grisham said.The exchange of American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks for the militants -- including Anas Haqqani, brother to the Taliban’s deputy leader -- was termed a “confidence-building” measure by both the Australian government and the insurgents.“We are profoundly pleased and relieved”, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement, adding that Weeks’ family had asked the government to convey their relief and gratitude.King and Weeks, both professors at the American University in Kabul, were kidnapped by gunmen wearing military uniforms in the heart of Afghan capital in August 2016.They later appeared looking haggard in a Taliban hostage video, with the insurgents going on to say that King was in poor health.The two professors were driven by car to Nawbahar district in Zabul, a southern province bordering Pakistan, earlier on Tuesday, an insurgent source told AFP. They were freed at around 10:00 am and flown out of Zabul on American helicopters, according to a local police source. American media cited King’s family as saying he was receiving medical care in US custody.The Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the transfer of the Taliban prisoners “is complete, and they have arrived where they were supposed to come”.The swap could indicate a breakthrough in stalled efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with the government in Kabul and begin work towards a political settlement ending their 18-year insurgency. RELATED ARTICLES Hong Kong university protesters defy surrender warnings Nov 20, 2019 0 731 Trump’s demand for Biden probe was improper, says top White House Ukraine expert Nov 20, 2019 0 1325 24 Mali soldiers, 17 militants die in clashes Nov 20, 2019 0 1004 US vows more support for Philippines amid tensions in South China Sea DPA Manila US Defence Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday vowed more support for the Philippines in efforts to modernise the country’s military and improve maritime security as tensions build over the disputed South China .. Sri Lanka’s new president Rajapaksa to visit India for talks with PM Modi Colombo: India’s foreign minister arrived in Sri Lanka on Tuesday and announced that new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to visit New Delhi next week. Subrahmanyam .. 6 dead as avalanche buries Indian patrol on disputed glacier Srinagar: An avalanche on Monday hit an Indian patrol in the world’s highest militarised zone in the Himalayas, killing four soldiers and two porters, an army spokesman said. The disaster was the latest on the Siachen .. Pakistan’s ailing ex-PM Sharif flown by air ambulance to London Lahore: Pakistan’s ailing ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif left by air ambulance on Tuesday for London, where he is due to receive medical treatment after battling the government for permission to travel, his doctor and .. Swedish prosecutor drops Julian Assange rape investigation Stockholm: Swedish prosecutors said on Tuesday they have dropped their investigation into jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a 2010 rape allegation, even though they found the plaintiff’s claim .. Spain court convicts 19 former ruling party officials in graft case Seville: A court in Spain on Tuesday convicted 19 former top officials from the ruling Socialists in Andalusia of graft for their role in one of the biggest corruption cases in the country’s modern history. The 19 were .. Johnson, Corbyn spar online ahead of first TV election duel London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sparred online on Tuesday ahead of their first televised head-to-head debate before a general election on December 12. Johnson .. President Zelensky says Ukraine getting ‘tired’ of Trump scandal Kiev: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that his country is “tired” of questions related to the Trump scandal, amid a critical week of public impeachment hearings in Washington. “We have our ..