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Taliban won't let go. The best option would be to allow the Taliban to be part of the government.
 

Khafee

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Taliban kill 26 government militiamen as talks enter crucial stage
June 29, 2019
Rupam Jain, Abdul Qadir Sediqi

View attachment 8646
FILE PHOTO - U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, speaks during a debate at Tolo TV channel in Kabul, Afghanistan April 28, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

KABUL (Reuters) - Taliban militants killed at least 26 members of a pro-government militia in north Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said, as the militants and U.S. negotiators prepared for a new round of peace talks in Qatar.

The U.S. officials and the Islamist militants are due to launch a seventh round of talks later on Saturday, in what one U.S. official said was a “make-or-break moment” in efforts to end the 18-year war.

The talks will be led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan, who has held six rounds of talks with the Taliban in Qatar’s capital of Doha since October.

But despite the efforts to find peace, fighting between the Taliban and government forces has not subsided.

In the latest bloodshed, insurgents stormed security posts manned by the pro-government militia in the early hours of Saturday in the Nahrin district of the northern province of Baghlan.

A provincial police spokesman said 26 of the militiamen were killed. A senior defense ministry official in Kabul said the attack was a clear indication that the Taliban wanted to negotiate from a position of strength.

Taliban officials claimed responsibility for the attack, saying their fighters had killed 28 militiamen and wounded 12.

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some U.S. forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.

The focus of the peace talks has been a Taliban demand for the withdrawal of foreign forces and a U.S. demand the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for militant attacks.

Two other main issues in the process are a ceasefire and talks between the rival Afghan sides - the insurgents and the Western-backed government. But the Taliban have refused to talk to the Afghan government, denouncing it as a “puppet”.

A senior U.S. official, speaking before the latest violence was reported, said both sides were hoping for progress in Qatar.

“There is a genuine sense of expectation on both sides,” said the official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorized to speak to media.

“It’s a make-or-break moment.”

DRAFT AGREEMENT
A Taliban leader in Qatar, who also declined to be identified, said the talks would be crucial.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on a trip to Kabul this week the United States was close to finishing a draft agreement with the militants on counter-terrorism assurances, and he hoped a peace pact could be reached by Sept. 1.

The Taliban control or contest half the country, more than at any time since they were ousted by U.S.-led forces in late 2001.

Afghanistan is due to hold a presidential election this year but the militants reject the process and instead want to form an interim government. But President Ashraf Ghani and leaders of opposition political parties have rejected the demand.

Some Afghan officials fear the United States and the Taliban will strike a deal allowing the war-weary United States to end its involvement and get out, leaving government forces to battle on alone.

The militia members killed on Saturday were among thousands of locally recruited fighters who are brought in to hold areas recaptured from the militants, freeing up the army for new operations.

On Friday, the defense ministry said a senior Taliban governor was killed in an air strike in the eastern province of Logar, and a militant commander was killed in clashes with Afghan security forces in Balkh province in the north.

The Taliban dismissed the reports as government propaganda.

Additional reporting by Jibran Ahmed in Peshawar; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel

 

Khafee

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Taliban kill 26 government militiamen as talks enter crucial stage
June 29, 2019
Rupam Jain, Abdul Qadir Sediqi

View attachment 8646
FILE PHOTO - U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, speaks during a debate at Tolo TV channel in Kabul, Afghanistan April 28, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

KABUL (Reuters) - Taliban militants killed at least 26 members of a pro-government militia in north Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said, as the militants and U.S. negotiators prepared for a new round of peace talks in Qatar.

The U.S. officials and the Islamist militants are due to launch a seventh round of talks later on Saturday, in what one U.S. official said was a “make-or-break moment” in efforts to end the 18-year war.

The talks will be led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan, who has held six rounds of talks with the Taliban in Qatar’s capital of Doha since October.

But despite the efforts to find peace, fighting between the Taliban and government forces has not subsided.

In the latest bloodshed, insurgents stormed security posts manned by the pro-government militia in the early hours of Saturday in the Nahrin district of the northern province of Baghlan.

A provincial police spokesman said 26 of the militiamen were killed. A senior defense ministry official in Kabul said the attack was a clear indication that the Taliban wanted to negotiate from a position of strength.

Taliban officials claimed responsibility for the attack, saying their fighters had killed 28 militiamen and wounded 12.

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some U.S. forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.

The focus of the peace talks has been a Taliban demand for the withdrawal of foreign forces and a U.S. demand the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for militant attacks.

Two other main issues in the process are a ceasefire and talks between the rival Afghan sides - the insurgents and the Western-backed government. But the Taliban have refused to talk to the Afghan government, denouncing it as a “puppet”.

A senior U.S. official, speaking before the latest violence was reported, said both sides were hoping for progress in Qatar.

“There is a genuine sense of expectation on both sides,” said the official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorized to speak to media.

“It’s a make-or-break moment.”

DRAFT AGREEMENT
A Taliban leader in Qatar, who also declined to be identified, said the talks would be crucial.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on a trip to Kabul this week the United States was close to finishing a draft agreement with the militants on counter-terrorism assurances, and he hoped a peace pact could be reached by Sept. 1.

The Taliban control or contest half the country, more than at any time since they were ousted by U.S.-led forces in late 2001.

Afghanistan is due to hold a presidential election this year but the militants reject the process and instead want to form an interim government. But President Ashraf Ghani and leaders of opposition political parties have rejected the demand.

Some Afghan officials fear the United States and the Taliban will strike a deal allowing the war-weary United States to end its involvement and get out, leaving government forces to battle on alone.

The militia members killed on Saturday were among thousands of locally recruited fighters who are brought in to hold areas recaptured from the militants, freeing up the army for new operations.

On Friday, the defense ministry said a senior Taliban governor was killed in an air strike in the eastern province of Logar, and a militant commander was killed in clashes with Afghan security forces in Balkh province in the north.

The Taliban dismissed the reports as government propaganda.

Additional reporting by Jibran Ahmed in Peshawar; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel

 

Khafee

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Dozens killed, more than 100 wounded in Kabul car bomb blast
02 July 2019
By Darryl Coote & Clyde Hughes

View attachment 8936
Afghan security officials secure the scene of a suicide bomb blast near a governmental institution in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday. Photo by Hedayatullah Amid/EPA-EFE


July 1 (UPI) -- Dozens of Afghans were killed and more than 100 were wounded, including many children, in a car bomb explosion in the Afghan capital on Monday.

Authorities said almost 50 children were among the 105 injured in the blast, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility, Tolo News reported.


Officials say the attack left up to 40 people dead, many security force members, the Washington Post reported.

The Taliban said in a statement that it had killed "dozens of [Department of Justice] officers and soldiers" in the attack.


Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi said the car bomb was detonated in Kabul targeting the Ministry of Defense's logistics and engineering center, located in a township where more than 100 families reside.

The Afghanistan Football Federation, which is in the vicinity of the blast, said it caused "serious injury" to players and staff. Some, it said, were cut with glass as a result of the explosion.

Special forces officers cordoned off an area where they exchanged fire with five attackers. Authorities reported that all five had been killed by Monday afternoon following an eight-hour gunfight.

Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said the attack puts on display the Taliban's "inherent criminal nature."

"We will not be deterred by such outrage to pursue and punish the miscreants," he said on Twitter.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said via Twitter that the explosion was followed by "multiple martyrdom seekers" who engaged in a firefight with Afghan forces.



The U.S. Embassy, which is in the vicinity, said it has not been impacted by the attack.

"We strongly condemn the Taliban's latest brutal attack against fellow Afghans," it tweeted.


U.S. Embassy Kabul
✔@USEmbassyKabul


The US Emb was not impacted by the ongoing #KabulAttack. Our thanks to the first responders in Kbl for their dedication to their fellow Afg citizens, and our condolences to those affected by the attack. We strongly condemn the Taliban’s latest brutal attack against fellow Afgs.
84
11:52 AM - Jul 1, 2019
Twitter Ads info and privacy


Earlier, Mustafa Kazemi, director of police organizational communications for the Ministry of Interior Affairs, reported the explosion occurred at about 8:55 a.m.

"I was too close to the area but safe," he said. "Ears are still blocked."

The White House condemned the attack Monday night, saying it "demonstrates the Taliban's callous disregard for their fellow Afghans, who repeatedly voice the urgency of finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict."

The attack came amid ongoing negotiations between the United States and the Taliban in Qatar over U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, counterterrorism assurances, a cease-fire and intra-Afghan negotiations.

There has been a recent increase in attacks in Afghanistan by the Taliban. Prior to the car bombing in Kabul, Mujahid said that there had been 52 operations within the past 24 hours, resulting in almost 200 people killed.

Despite the recent uptick in violence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Sibghat Ahmadi is optimistic about starting intra-Afghan talks within the coming weeks.

"The Afghan government is ready for unconditional talks with the Taliban given that achievements of Afghanistan are protected," he said.

 

Khafee

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U.S. Envoy Hails Latest Talks With Taliban as the Best Ever
06 July 2019
Jacquelyn Martin - AP
KATHY GANNON - AP
View attachment 9119
Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad

KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. peace envoy to Afghanistan said Saturday that for the first time he can report “substantive” progress on all four issues key to a peace agreement in the country’s 17-year war, calling the latest round of talks with the Taliban the “most productive” so far.

Zalmay Khalilzad said talks with the Taliban had been exclusively about troop withdrawal and anti-terrorism guarantees. But on Saturday, he said the discussions have broadened to include a timeline for both intra-Afghan negotiations as well as a cease-fire. He declined to give details, however. The talks were to resume Tuesday.

Khalilzad said it will ultimately be up to Afghans to decide among themselves the agenda for negotiations as well as the terms of a cease-fire.

So far, the Taliban have refused to talk directly with the current Afghan government, considering it a U.S. puppet. The insurgents, however, have consistently said they will sit down with any Afghan, even a government official, but as an ordinary citizen and not as a government representative.

The Taliban currently control nearly half of Afghanistan, and are more powerful than at any time since the October 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

More than 2,400 U.S. service personnel have died in Afghanistan since the coalition invaded to oust the Taliban and hunt down al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

In a press briefing in Doha, where he has been meeting the Taliban, Khalilzad said he hoped that all-Afghan talks that begin Sunday — also in Doha — will be a precursor to negotiations to hammer out the framework for Afghanistan’s post-war future — what he called the “actual give and take about the future of the country, the political roadmap that will take place during negotiations.”

He said Washington’s “aspiration” is to have that framework in place by Sept. 1 and ahead of the Afghan presidential election scheduled for Sept. 28.

Khalilzad refused to be drawn into specifics but said an agreement on the framework for Afghanistan’s future would be akin to a blueprint that would lay out issues important to all sides in the conflict, including constitutional revisions, interim government versus elections, the fate of militias, a cease-fire and even whether the country should be named the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan or the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

A visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, at the end of last month seemed to give fresh impetus to peace efforts and Sept. 1 emerged as a target date for a peace deal to end America’s longest running military engagement.

Khalilzad’s appointment last September began the accelerated effort to find a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s war.

Since then, Khalilzad has held scores of talks with the Afghan government in Kabul and abroad, with the Taliban as well as with Afghanistan’s neighbors — including Pakistan, which has been accused of aiding the insurgents.

Khalilzad said the atmosphere during recent talks was the best yet, with both sides finding shared humor as opposed to previous talks which had on occasion ended in acrimony, shouting and the occasional walk out.

Several prominent Afghan figures left Kabul for Doha on Saturday ahead of much-anticipated all-Afghan talks to begin Sunday. Those discussions are co-sponsored by Germany and Qatar, and include the Taliban.

An April round of intra-Afghan talks were scuttled after the two sides could not agree on participants. The Afghan government had submitted a list of 250 people. The Taliban likened it to a wedding party.

This time the Taliban say 60 people will participate.

Attaullah Rahman Salim, the deputy head of the government’s high peace council, said 64 would be sitting around the table.

The list includes senior members of the government, former mujahedeen who fought the Soviet in the 1980s as well as former government officials, former ambassadors, civil society representatives and a small number of women.

Khalilzad said for the first time the Afghan-to-Afghan talks include senior members of President Ashraf Ghani’s government, even if they are there as ordinary Afghans. Khalilzad said the exchange allows both sides to get to know the other, which he hopes will lead to negotiations.

Participants at the table will be there “on equal footing” and not as government representatives, according to the German and Qatari sponsors of the talks.

Afghan President Ghani, who has been conspicuously quiet about the upcoming intra-Afghan dialogue, has consistently demanded the Taliban talk directly with the government.

U.S. Envoy Hails Latest Talks With Taliban as the Best Ever
 

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Taliban, Afghan leaders agree to peace 'road map' ahead of U.S. talks
JULY 9, 2019
By Clyde Hughes

View attachment 9290
A man carries a wounded child at the site of a suicide bombing in Kabul , Afghanistan, on April 22, 2018. File Photo by Ezatullah Alidost/UPI | License Photo

July 9 (UPI) -- Taliban officials and Afghan government leaders, acting in an unofficial capacity, said Tuesday they've ended two days of meetings in Qatar with an eight-point road map for peace.

The two groups agreed to continue "all-inclusive Afghan negotiations" and said the country will be a "united" and "Islamic" one that sets aside "all ethnic differences." It also asks for an end to civilian casualties and the protection for women's rights in an "Islamic framework."

Though the agreement is nonbinding, it signals room for moves that could accelerate the end of the 18-year conflict.

Tuesday's progress follows weeks of negotiations between Taliban leaders and the United States, but no official representatives of the Afghan government -- a stipulation insisted upon by Taliban leaders. While the Taliban participated in the latest meetings with Afghan leaders individually, it still refuses to meet with the current government in its official capacity, dismissing it as a "puppet" of the United States.

Some fear the Taliban wants to move Afghanistan into Islamic Sharia law that dominated before the conflict began in late 2001. Some U.S. officials hope a peace agreement could be reached for Afghan's presidential elections on Sept. 28, possibly by the Sept. 1.

"Glad to see common understanding on difficult issues," female Afghan lawmaker Fawzia Koofi tweeted. "The conference itself was a success in pursuing peace agenda."
U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad declared the separate discussions as positive, and pledged official talks between the militant group and the U.S. government would resume later Tuesday.

"The intra-Afghan Conference on Peace just concluded on a very positive note," Khalilzad tweeted. "I congratulate the participants -- Afghan society representatives across generations, senior government officials, Taliban -- for finding common ground.

"This dialogue gives hope for further progress to end the 40-year long war and the terrible suffering of the Afghan people."

 

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