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News, July 2019
4 Killed, 36 Injured in Attack, US-Taliban Rewriting Draft Deal on Troop Wthdrawal, Ahead of All-Afghan Peace Conference in Qatar, on July 7-8, 2019
July 6, 2019
Afghanistan: 4 Killed, 36 Wounded in Taliban Attack
ANI 05 Jul 2019, 23:03 GMT+10
Faryab [Afghanistan], July 05 (ANI):
At least four civilians were killed and 36 others suffered injuries in a Taliban attack in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan.
The Kamma Press, citing the 209 Shaheen Corps, reported that Taliban fired multiple rounds of mortars and rockets in a market area.
The Corps said that the shelling started at 6:39 am [local time].
Taliban has conducted various attacks in a past few days. On June 2, 68 people suffered injuries in a coordinated attack by the terror group which rocked the city of Kabul. (ANI)
US, Taliban Rewriting Draft Deal on US-NATO Troop Wthdrawal Ahead of Peace Conference
Voice of America 04 Jul 2019, 22:05 GMT+10
Taliban and U.S. negotiators are scrambling to rewrite a draft agreement that will outline the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan and a verifiable Taliban guarantee to fight terrorism ahead of an all-Afghan peace conference Sunday.
Officials familiar with the talks, but not authorized to speak about them, say negotiations went late into the night Wednesday and were to resume again Thursday, the sixth day of direct talks between the insurgents and U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban's political office in Qatar, told The Associated Press Thursday that "the talks are continuing and they will continue tomorrow as well. We have made some progress."
Previously he said that a draft agreement was being rewritten to include agreed-upon clauses. On Thursday he said the two sides had broadened their discussion, without elaborating.
Troop withdrawal timing
Until now the two sides had been divided on the withdrawal timetable, with the United States seeking more time.
Taliban officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, earlier said the U.S. was seeking up to 18 months to complete a troop withdrawal even as U.S. President Donald Trump told Fox News earlier this week that a withdrawal had quietly begun and that troop strength had been cut to 9,000. The president's statement has since been contradicted by a senior U.S. official, who said the force strength is unchanged at about 14,000.
Still, Trump's statements reinforced the president's often stated desire to leave Afghanistan and end America's 18-year war, the longest in his country's history.
Trump eagerness helps Taliban
His eagerness to pull out has strengthened the position of the Taliban, who effectively control half the country and won a key concession in the planning of the upcoming peace gathering, which will include no official delegation from the Afghan government.
Germany and Qatar, who are co-sponsoring the dialogue and issuing the invitations, said participants will attend "only in their personal capacity," a condition President Ashraf Ghani has strenuously opposed. He has made no comment on Sunday's meeting.
The Taliban have steadfastly refused to talk to Ghani's government, calling it a U.S. puppet, but have said government officials can attend the conference as private citizens.
In a tweet Wednesday, Shaheen said 60 people will attend the peace gathering, which Khalilzad called an "essential element" in achieving a peace agreement in Afghanistan.
Atta-ul-Rahman Salim, deputy head of a government-appointed peace council, said the delegation from Kabul will include a cross-section of Afghanistan's civil society, including women's rights activists.
"It is a good first step to hear each other's side," he said.
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who attended two previous meetings with the Taliban in Moscow, told The Associated Press he won't be attending the Doha gathering because he will be in China. But, he added, "I fully support the coming intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha and am in the picture."
All-Afghan Peace Summit Announced Following Deadly Kabul Attack
July 02, 2019 09:30 GMT
An all-Afghan peace summit has been set for July 7-8, 2019, although the talks in Qatar will apparently be held without the official participation of the Afghan government.
The summit was announced on July 1 as negotiators from the United States and the Taliban were trying to hammer out terms for a peace agreement in the Qatari capital, Doha, and after the militant group claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing and gun attack in Kabul.
The July 1 assault on a government building killed at least six people and wounded 105. Five militants were also killed in an hours-long gunbattle with Afghan security forces.
The assault was condemned as "barbarous" by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who called on the Taliban to stop attacking civilians but also said that Washington remained committed to the peace process.
Germany will co-sponsor the peace summit along with Qatar, according to Marcus Potzel, Germany's special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
But Potzel noted in a statement issued by the United States that the potential Afghan participants had been invited and "will participate only in their personal capacity and on an equal footing."
An earlier attempt at intra-Afghan dialogue in Qatar failed in April due to disagreements over who would participate.
The Taliban, which is demanding that foreign forces leave Afghanistan while the United States is seeking guarantees that the country will not be used as a staging ground for attacks elsewhere, has said it will not negotiate with the Afghan government until foreign forces have been withdrawn.
Afghan presidential spokesman Siddiq Siddiqi said that the Kabul attack showed that the Taliban militants "don't care about peace in Afghanistan. But for the people and the government of Afghanistan peace is the priority."
U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is currently in Doha attending a seventh round of direct talks with the Taliban, thanked Qatar and Germany for agreeing to host the summit.
"This dialogue is an essential element of the four-part peace framework & an important step in advancing the #AfghanPeaceProcess," he tweeted.
In a televised interview broadcast on July 1, U.S. President Donald Trump described Afghanistan as a "lab for terrorists," saying that if the United States withdrew its military forces from the country, he would still leave a "very strong intelligence" presence behind.
"I call it the Harvard of terrorists," Trump said about Afghanistan, referring to the prestigious U.S. university.
The interview with Fox News was recorded before the Taliban attack in Kabul.
With reporting by dpa and AP
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