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US envoy questions Afghan Taliban’s desire for peace

KABUL: US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad raised doubts on Thursday about the Taliban’s desire to end the 17-year war, after the militants refused to meet a Kabul-backed negotiating team. While he was certain the Afghan government wanted to stop the conflict, Khalilzad told Ariana News that he questioned whether the Taliban were “genuinely seeking peace”. “We have to wait and see their forthcoming steps,” he said, according to a translation of the interview provided by the US embassy in Kabul. Khalilzad’s remarks to…

Afghan Taliban say will meet US officials in UAE today

Representatives from the Afghan Taliban will meet US officials in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, the movement’s main spokesman said as diplomatic moves toward agreeing to the basis for talks to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan continue. Zabihullah Mujahid said representatives from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE would also take part in the meeting, which follows at least two meetings between Taliban officials and US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. He made the announcement in a statement on…

Afghan Taliban attacks intensify as US peace envoy returns

GHAZNI: The Taliban intensified attacks in a district heavily populated by minority Hazaras Sunday, as US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad returned to the region as part of efforts to convince the group to end the 17-year war. In pre-dawn fighting in Jaghori district in the southeastern province of Ghazni, militants killed 15 civilians and 10 members of Afghanistan's elite special forces, provincial police spokesman Ahmad Khan Sirat told AFP. Another six special forces and eight civilians were wounded, Sirat added. The…

Afghan Taliban to ‘join’ Moscow peace talks

PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban will join multilateral peace talks being hosted by Rus­sia on Friday, senior Taliban officials said on Monday, after the United States and Afghanistan turned down their invitations. But Taliban spokesman Zabih­ullah Mujahid said they had not formally agreed to take part. Russia invited 12 countries and the Taliban, but the United States and the US-backed Afghan government declined. Representatives from Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are expected to attend,…

Deputy chief Afghan Taliban Abdul Ghani released

KABUL: Pakistan Embassy in Kabul on Sunday said that Pakistan had freed Deputy Chief of Afghan Taliban Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar, ARY News reported. The spokesman for the embassy confirmed that another Taliban commander Mulla Abdul Samad Sani was also released. Sources said the release has been made to make America's rapprochement process with Taliban possible. The special representative of the United States had requested Pakistan for granting them freedom from jail.  Sources said this would send a positive…

Big hugs and selfies as Afghan soldiers, Taliban celebrate Eid ceasefire

KABUL: Afghan soldiers and Taliban militants celebrated an unprecedented ceasefire marking the end of the Ramadan fasting season with Eid greetings, handshakes, big hugs, and selfies. The Taliban announced a surprise three-day ceasefire over the Eid holiday, which began on Friday, except against foreign forces. It overlaps with an Afghan government ceasefire which lasts until Wednesday. Video and pictures on social media showed cheerful soldiers and Taliban hugging one another and exchanging Eid greetings in Logar…

Afghan Taliban raise hopes with surprise Eid ceasefire

KABUL: The Afghan Taliban on Saturday announced a surprise three-day ceasefire over the Muslim Eid holiday in the middle of June, their first offer of its kind, days after the government declared an unconditional ceasefire of its own. The militants said foreign forces would be excluded from the ceasefire and that operations against them would continue. They also said they would defend themselves against any attack. “Members of the Taliban should not participate in public gatherings during the Eid festivities because…

Russia denies aiding Afghan Taliban after US general’s comments

KABUL: Russia has rejected comments by NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan that it has been supporting and even supplying weapons to the Taliban, in a clash of words that underlines growing tension over Moscow’s involvement in the conflict. In an interview with the BBC last week, General John Nicholson said that Russia had been acting to undermine US efforts in Afghanistan despite shared interests in fighting terrorism and narcotics, with indications that Moscow was providing financial support and even arms. “We’ve had…

US general accuses Russia of supplying arms to Afghan Taliban

The head of US forces in Afghanistan, Gen John Nicholson, has accused Russia of supporting and supplying arms to the Afghan Taliban.  In an interview to BBC, he claimed he'd seen "destabilising activity by the Russians." The US general claimed Russian weapons were smuggled across the Tajik border to the Taliban, but could not say in what quantity. "We see a narrative that's being used that grossly exaggerates the number of Isis fighters here," Gen Nicholson told BBC News. "This narrative then is used as a…

US slaps sanctions on six Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network militants

WASHINGTON: The United States (US) imposed sanctions on six men linked to the Afghan Taliban and the related Haqqani network on Thursday, less than a month after President Donald Trump ordered big cuts in security aid to Pakistan. The counter terrorism designations announced by the U.S. Treasury Department bars two Pakistanis and four Afghans living in Pakistan from accessing the U.S. financial system. In a surprise tweet on New Year’s Day, Trump said the United States had “foolishly” given Pakistan more than $33…