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Afghan Taliban not serious about peace, says govt chief

The Taliban in Afghanistan have not yet shown any sign they are serious about ending their 17-year insurgency despite US efforts to push a fresh peace process, the country´s de facto prime minister told AFP. Abdullah Abdullah, who serves as "chief executive" of the unity government in Kabul, struck a far more skeptical tone about the prospects of a deal than his political rival, President Ashraf Ghani, and his Western counterparts. Ghani said earlier this month it was "not a question of if, but when" an agreement would…

Taliban say no pact struck with US over deadline to end war

KABUL: A three-day meeting between the Tali­ban and the US special envoy for Afghanistan to pave the way for peace talks ended with no agreement, the militant group said a day after the diplomat declared a deadline of April 2019 to end the 17-year-long war. Afghanistan’s security situation has worsened since Nato formally ended combat operations in 2014, as the Taliban battle to re-impose Isla­mic laws following their overthrow in 2001 at the hands of US-led troops. Leaders of the hard line group met US special envoy…

Taliban attends peace talks in Moscow for first time, no progress reported

MOSCOW: Taliban officials attended a diplomatic conference in Russia for the first time on Friday, but reaffirmed their stance that they would only hold direct talks on Afghanistan’s future with the United States, not with the Kabul government. The one-day conference underscored Moscow’s eagerness to play a role in the Afghan peace process but the Kabul government did not send a delegation. Instead, members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, a body which oversees peace efforts but does not represent the government,…

US special envoy Khalilzad on four-nation visit including Pakistan

WASHINGTON: U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, will visit Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar from Nov. 8 to 20 to push for peace negotiations with the Afghan Taliban, the State Department said on Thursday. Khalilzad met Taliban leaders in Qatar last month as part of efforts to find a way to end the 17-year-long war in Afghanistan, according to the Islamist group that was ousted from power by U.S.-led forces in 2001. “On his last trip to the region in October, Special…

Taliban confirm delegation to attend Moscow peace talks

The Taliban will send representatives to multilateral talks in Russia on war-torn Afghanistan this month, the militant group said on Tuesday, as the international community ratchets up efforts to end the 17-year conflict. Moscow announced on Saturday it would host the meeting on November 9 to discuss ways to kickstart peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban. In a statement posted on social media, the Taliban said they would dispatch “high-ranking” representatives from its political office in Qatar. “This…

Afghan delegation to attend peace talks in Russia: official

An Afghan delegation will attend international talks on the war-torn country in Russia this month, officials said Monday, as the Taliban consider whether to participate. Moscow announced Saturday it would host the event on November 9 in the Russian capital — even as the United States engages the Taliban in nascent bilateral talks to end the 17-year conflict. Afghanistan´s High Peace Council, a government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants, would send four representatives to the meeting,…

Ashraf Ghani to seek re-election next year

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will seek re-election in 2019, his office announced on Saturday, as potential rivals begin jockeying for the country’s top job ahead of the ballot. Mr Ghani, who was elected in a controversial poll in 2014, is expected to present himself to war-weary voters as the candidate who can end the 17-year conflict. The 69-year-old acerbic academic, who has a reputation for shouting at subordinates and micromanaging the unity government, will try to capitalise on renewed US-led efforts to…

Russia to host peace talks with Afghan leaders, Taliban delegation

MOSCOW: Russia said on Saturday that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had agreed to send a group of senior politicians to peace talks in Moscow, at which a delegation representing the Taliban would be present. Russia in August proposed holding multilateral peace talks in Moscow, and invited 12 countries and the Taliban to attend a summit the following month. But the meeting was postponed after Ghani rejected the invitation on the grounds that talks with the Taliban should be led by the Afghan government. In a statement on…

US renews call on Pakistan to cut off extremists

United States (US) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday renewed calls on Pakistan to curb extremists fighting in Afghanistan, saying Washington was holding its uneasy war partner accountable. Pompeo made the comment as he welcomed long-delayed legislative elections in Afghanistan, saying the US was “encouraged” by voter turnout, despite reports of widespread problems including poll centres that failed to open or lacked voter rolls. “Our expectation is that Pakistan will not provide safe harbour to terrorists on…

New US sanctions target Iran-Taliban ties

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury and allies in the Gulf took aim at Iran’s support for the Taliban on Tuesday with new sanctions against nine individuals from both countries. The Riyadh-based Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) said the sanctions aimed to “expose and disrupt Taliban actors and their Iranian sponsors that seek to undermine the security of the Afghan Government.” The list inc­l­u­­ded two Iranian Revolu­tionary Guard officials identified as Mohammad Ebra­him Owhadi and Esma’il Razavi. According to…