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KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan government and Taliban representatives said on Wednesday they had reached a preliminary deal to press on with peace talks - their first written agreement in 19 years of war. The agreement, while only laying out modalities for further discussions, is considered a major breakthrough because it will allow negotiators to move on to more substantive issues, including talks on a ceasefire. “The procedure including its preamble of the negotiation has been finalised and from now on, the negotiation will begin on the agenda,” Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan government’s negotiating team, told Reuters. The Taliban spokesman confirmed the same on Twitter.
Persons: ” Nader Nadery Organizations: Reuters, Twitter Locations: KABUL
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents in Doha, Qatar September 12, 2020. “A joint working committee was tasked to prepare the draft topics for the agenda (of peace talks),” a joint statement from both sides said. A U.S.-backed government has held power in Afghanistan since then, although the Taliban have control over wide areas of the country. TRUMP WANTS OUTUnder a February deal, foreign forces are to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counter-terrorism guarantees from the Taliban. A European Union diplomat familiar with the process said both sides had kept some contentious issues aside to deal with separately.
Persons: ” Nader Nadery, Ashraf Ghani’s, Sediq Sediqqi, Zalmay Khalilzad, ” Khalilzad, Osama bin Laden, Donald Trump, Trump, Heiko Maas, Afghanistan Deborah Lyons, Organizations: Taliban, Reuters, Twitter, Special, TRUMP, U.S, German, UN Locations: KABUL, United States, Doha, Qatar, Ghazni, Kabul, U.S, Afghanistan, Union
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan government and Taliban representatives said on Wednesday they had reached a preliminary deal to press on with peace talks, their first written agreement in 19 years of war welcomed by the United Nations and Washington. The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion and is considered a breakthrough because it will allow negotiators to move on to more substantive issues, including talks on a ceasefire. In Afghanistan, the two sides are still at war, with Taliban attacks on government forces continuing unabated. A U.S.-backed government has held power in Afghanistan since then, although the Taliban have control over wide areas of the country. Under a February deal, foreign forces are to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counter-terrorism guarantees from the Taliban, including negotiating a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula with the Afghan government.
Persons: ” Nader Nadery, Zalmay Khalilzad, , Afghanistan Deborah Lyons, Ashraf Ghani, Osama bin Laden Organizations: United Nations, Washington, Reuters, Twitter, Special, UN Locations: KABUL, Doha, Qatar, United States, Afghanistan, U.S
The agreement comes after months of talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar, encouraged by the United States, despite the ongoing violence. A ceasefire remains the most urgent demand of international capitals and Kabul, even after the Taliban refused one during the preliminary stages of talks. “(The agreement) is a step forward towards beginning the negotiations on the main issues, including a comprehensive ceasefire as the key demand of the Afghan people,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said on Twitter, quoting the Afghan leader. FILE PHOTO: A general view shows talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents in Doha, Qatar September 12, 2020. A European Union diplomat familiar with the process said both sides had kept some contentious issues aside to deal with separately.
Persons: ” Nader Nadery, Ashraf Ghani’s, Sediq Sediqqi, Mike Pompeo, al, Zalmay Khalilzad, ” Khalilzad, Osama bin Laden, Donald Trump, Trump, Heiko Maas, Organizations: Reuters, Twitter, Taliban, Special, TRUMP, U.S, German Locations: KABUL, United States, Doha, Qatar, Kabul, al Omari U.S, Pakistan, U.S, Afghanistan, Union
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Wednesday that the US has achieved a "modicum of success" after nearly two decades "of consistent effort" in Afghanistan. The problem is that for the past few years, the situation in Afghanistan has been a "strategic stalemate," Milley added. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Wednesday that the US has achieved a "modicum of success" after nearly two decades of fighting in Afghanistan. "We believe now that after 20 years, two decades of consistent effort, that we he have achieved a modicum of success," Milley, the highest-ranking US military officer, said Wednesday during a virtual event at the Brookings Institution think tank. The problem is that for the past few years, the situation in Afghanistan has been a "strategic stalemate," he said.
Persons: Mark Milley, Milley, you've, Graves, Saul Loeb, Mike Pompeo, Pompeo, Chris Miller, Miller, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Trump, Biden, Providence Organizations: Joint Chiefs, Staff, Brookings Institution, US, Taliban, Arlington National Cemetery, Getty, Wednesday, Afghan Islamic Locations: Afghanistan, United States, Arlington, Afghan Islamic Republic
US observers welcomed Sullivan's message as a departure from Trump's attitude toward allies but said Biden needs to follow-through on it after taking office. Sullivan's message avoided mentioning China, which has steadily escalated a confrontation with Australia since earlier this year. After Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, Beijing called Australia "a giant kangaroo that serves as a dog to the US." "There are undoubtedly tensions that exist between China and Australia, but this is not how you deal with them." Vice President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping toast during a State Luncheon for China, September 25, 2015.
Persons: Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden, Biden, Sullivan, Trump, Zhao Lijian, Scott Morrison, Morrison, Hua Chunying, Xi Jinping, PAUL J, RICHARDS, Jorge Guajardo, Bonnie Glaser, John Culver, Abraham Denmark, Morrison's Organizations: Wednesday, Canberra, Twitter, Chinese Foreign Ministry, Afghan, Australian Defence Force, Government, ADF, Foreign Ministry, Getty, Trump, Center for Strategic, International Studies, East Locations: Australia, China, America, Beijing, Afghanistan, Asia, East Asia
A fabricated image of an Australian soldier harming an Afghan child, published on Twitter by a Chinese official, drew fierce backlash from Australia. "It looks like they're trying to tarnish us for different transgressions," he told Insider. A fabricated image of an Australian soldier harming a child published on a Chinese official's Twitter account on Sunday has further divided China and Australia. Do they think that their merciless killing of Afghan civilians is justified but the condemnation of such ruthless brutality is not? Australian ArmyAn Australian special forces soldier who completed multiple combat tours in Afghanistan described China's tweet as a "dirty game."
Persons: Zhao Lijian, Tarin Kowt, PO1 John Collins, Scott Morrison, Morrison, China's, Hua Chunying, Republican Sen, Marco Rubio, Jack Dorsey, " Rubio Organizations: Twitter, Afghan, Foreign Ministry, Australian Defence Force, International Security Assistance Force, Royal Australian Regiment, ISAF, ADF, Government, Australian Army, Republican, Australia's Locations: Australia, China, Australian, Afghanistan, Afghan, Tarin, Xinjiang, Florida
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian takes a question at the daily media briefing in Beijing on April 8, 2020. In the image, the Australian soldier holding the bloody knife appears to say: "Don't be afraid. Since 2003, China has regularly released a human rights report specifically targeted at the US, focused on racial discrimination, gun violence and the gap between the rich and poor in America. "Now we're seeing that pattern of selectively calling out human rights violations also applying to Australia," she said. In a press conference on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying bluntly rejected Australian PM Morrison's call for an apology.
Persons: Zhao Lijian, Scott Morrison, Morrison, It's, Bonnie Glaser, China's, Glaser, Elaine Pearson, Pearson, Simon Birmingham, Zhao, Hua Chunying, Hua Organizations: CNN, Foreign Ministry, Australian, China Power, Center for Strategic, International Studies, Publicly, Washington, China's State Council, Communist Party, China, Human Rights, Australian SAS, ABC News Australia Locations: Sydney, Australia, Australian, Afghan, Afghanistan, Beijing, China, Iraq, United States, America, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Russia
Afghan female artist breaks tattoo taboo in Kabul studio
  + stars: | 2020-11-30 | by ( Hameed Farzad | Sayed Hassib | ) www.reuters.com + 0.97   time to read: +2 min
KABUL (Reuters) - Soraya Shahidy carefully lays a stencil on Nargis Merzayi’s arm before inking the latest tattoo in her salon in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul. A normal routine in studios around the world, Shahidy’s artwork in the conservative country breaks a tattoo taboo: she believes she is the first female tattoo artist in a country where some religious scholars say tattoos are forbidden under Islam. “Some mullahs say tattoos are forbidden, but there are other mullahs who say the opposite,” she said, adding that Kabul is seeing a small but growing demand from young people for tattoos. But some boys choose designs that are extravagant to me.”One client, she said, wanted a tattoo of a tombstone inscribed “volunteer of death”. Like many in the country, Shahidy thinks about the possibility of a return to power by the Taliban, who are in peace talks with the Afghan government to end two decades of war.
Persons: Soraya Shahidy, Merzayi’s, , ” Shahidy, Organizations: Reuters Locations: KABUL, Afghanistan’s, Kabul, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, Islam
Afghan and US military officers reported to Stars and Stripes that Asadi has killed more Taliban members than any other pilot in the Afghan Air Force. An Afghan Air Force MD-530F Cayuse Warrior helicopter fires its two FN M3P .50-caliber machine guns at a training range outside of Kabul, April 9, 2015. There was also concern about allowing an active duty Afghan Air Force pilot to flee to the United States. There is a historical track record of the Afghan government failing to protect pilots. "It is also quite clear that the Afghan government cannot (or will not) protect the Asadi family from the Taliban.
Persons: Mohammed Naiem Asadi, Asadi, Perry Aston, Kimberly Motley, Fawad Aman, Motley Organizations: US Defense Department, Afghan Air Force, FN, US Air Force, Staff, Pentagon, United States, Pilots, Afghan Defense, Air Force Locations: Afghanistan, United States, Kabul, United, Afghan, American, Taliban
Asadi is a decorated Afghan helicopter pilot credited with protecting US Air Force pilots in Afghanistan and killing more Taliban than any other pilot in the Afghan air force, according to Stars and Stripes, the US military's independent newspaper. 'We are so stressed'"If I am sent back to Kabul, I'm afraid I will be jailed by the Afghan government or killed by the Taliban," Asadi said. A Pentagon spokesperson said it is aware of the situation surrounding Asadi, who is still an active-duty officer in the Afghan air force. Lodewick said the Defense Department "continues to work with Afghan leaders to mitigate risks to pilots within the AAF. The letter, written by US Air Force Capt.
Persons: Mohammed Naiem Asadi, Rahima, haven't, Asadi, I'm, Zainab, Kimberley Motley, Motley, Rob Lodewick, USCIS, Lodewick, Robert V, Yost Organizations: CNN, US Department of Defense, US Air Force, Pentagon, Department of Defense, Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, UN, DoD, US, Office, Defense, Special Operations, Humanitarian Affairs, US Citizen, US Embassy, Afghan, Afghan Ministry of Defense, Embassy, Afghan Air Force, US Forces, Defense Department, AAF, Afghan Government, Bagram Air Base, Taliban, ISIS, American Air Force Locations: Afghanistan, Afghan, Kabul, United States, Bagram, America, Washington, Afghanistan's, Baghlan
Afghanistan car bombing kills at least 30 security force personnel
  + stars: | 2020-11-29 | by ( Reuters Staff | ) www.reuters.com sentiment -1.00   time to read: +2 min
KABUL (Reuters) - A car bombing in the Afghanistan’s central province of Ghazni killed at least 30 Afghan security force members on Sunday, officials said, and casualties could increase given the intensity and location of the blast. Afghan National Army soldiers keep watch outside of a military compound after a car bomb blast on the outskirts of Ghazni city, Afghanistan November 29, 2020. REUTERS/Mustafa AndalebBaz Mohammad Hemat, director of the provincial hospital in Ghazni, said 30 bodies and 24 injured people had been transported there. The blast targeted a compound of the public protection force, a wing of the Afghan security forces, local officials said. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, when contacted by Reuters, did not confirm or deny responsibility.
Persons: Mustafa Andaleb Baz Mohammad Hemat, , Tariq Arian, Zabihullah Mujahid, Gul Islam Syaal, Haji Ata Jan Haqbayan Organizations: Afghan National Army, REUTERS, Reuters, Taliban Locations: KABUL, Afghanistan’s, Ghazni, Ghazni city, Afghanistan, Qatari, Doha, Zabul
Australia says 13 soldiers told they face dismissal after Afghan report
  + stars: | 2020-11-27 | by ( Colin Packham | ) www.reuters.com sentiment -0.82   time to read: +2 min
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia has told 13 special forces soldiers they face dismissal in relation to a report on alleged unlawful killings in Afghanistan, the head of the country’s army said on Friday. FILE PHOTO: Members of Australia's special forces conduct an exercise during the Australian International Airshow in Melbourne March 2, 2011. Under mounting pressure, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, the head of the Australian army, said 13 current soldiers have been issued with notices that could eventually lead to their termination. Burr did not identify any of the 13 soldiers, but said they were not part of the 19 current and former soldiers who face possible criminal charges. He said the 13 soldiers that face dismissal have two weeks to respond to the notice.
Persons: Mick Tsikas, Rick Burr, Burr, ” Burr, Organizations: SYDNEY, International, REUTERS, U.S Locations: Australia, Afghanistan, Melbourne, Canberra
Australia to dismiss at least 10 soldiers over Afghan killings: ABC
  + stars: | 2020-11-26 | by ( Reuters Staff | ) www.reuters.com sentiment -1.00   time to read: +1 min
FILE PHOTO: Members of Australia's special forces conduct an exercise during the Australian International Airshow in Melbourne March 2, 2011. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas/FilesSYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia has issued termination notices to at least 10 special forces soldiers after the release of a report that found credible evidence of unlawful killings in Afghanistan, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) said on Thursday. An independent report published last week in redacted form said there was evidence that 39 unarmed Afghan prisoners and civilians were killed by 19 Australian soldiers. None of the 19 soldiers was identified in the report, which was written by a state judge appointed by the inspector-general of defence. Amid the immediate fallout, the ABC said 10 soldiers had been formally notified that they would be dismissed.
Persons: Mick Tsikas Organizations: International, REUTERS, SYDNEY, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC, Department of Defence, U.S Locations: Melbourne, Australia, Afghanistan
Afghan migrant: I thought France was humane until police beat me
  + stars: | 2020-11-25 | by ( Yiming Woo | ) www.reuters.com sentiment -1.00   time to read: +2 min
We thought they were humane people,” he said on Tuesday night near a railway station in Paris where charities were distributing food. Khademi, 27, said he was inside his tent when the police arrived and beat him with batons. From Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, he said he travelled through Pakistan, Iran, and the Balkans to reach France. He previously stayed at a migrant camp on the edge of Paris, but that was dispersed last week. “We have no way back; we have to stay here and endure the situation because we have no other choice.”
Persons: Murtaza Khademi, Gonzalo Fuentes, , ” Khademi, Gerard Darmanin Organizations: PARIS, la Republique, REUTERS, Police Locations: Afghanistan, France, Europe, la, Paris, Mazar, Pakistan, Iran, Balkans
Foreign donors make Afghan aid pledges with tougher conditions
  + stars: | 2020-11-24 | by ( Reuters Staff | ) www.reuters.com + 0.00   time to read: +4 min
REUTERS/Omar SobhaniDozens of nations, international institutions and the European Union combined to pledge billions in aid for Afghanistan at the conference in Geneva. But many, including the United States and Germany, slapped strict conditions on future funding and some committed for just the next year - departing from four-year pledges made in the past. “We’re pleased to pledge today $300 million...with the remaining $300 million available as we review progress in the peace process,” U.S. The United States has contributed roughly $800 million a year in civilian aid in recent years. France pledged 88 million euros ($104.20 million) and Canada 270 million Canadian dollars ($206.66 million).
Persons: Omar Sobhani, “ We’re, David Hale, Hale, , , Josep Borrell Organizations: United, REUTERS, European Union, Diplomats, State, Political, Qatari, Doha, Taliban, Britain Locations: GENEVA, United States, Afghanistan, Kabul, Geneva, Germany, U.S, Bamyan, Brussels, EU, Britain, Canada
KABUL (Reuters) - Twin blasts in the central Afghan province of Bamiyan killed at least 14 people and wounded 45 more, provincial officials said on Tuesday as the international community pledged assistance for Afghanistan in Geneva. The explosives were hidden at the side of a road in a main bazaar in Bamiyan city that killed 12 civilians and two traffic policemen and wounded 45 other people, said Zabardast Safai, the police chief of the province.
Persons: Zabardast Safai Locations: KABUL, Afghan, Bamiyan, Afghanistan, Geneva
KABUL (Reuters) - Twin explosions in the central Afghan province of Bamiyan killed at least 14 people and wounded 45 more, provincial officials said on Tuesday, as the international community pledged assistance for Afghanistan at a conference in Switzerland. The two bombs, hidden at the side of a road in a main bazaar in Bamiyan city, killed 12 civilians and two traffic policemen, said Zabardast Safai, the police chief of the province. The other 45 people injured were mostly from a nearby restaurant and shops, Safai added. Bamiyan has been seen as the country’s safest province due to its remote location in the central mountains. The dominant local tribe, the Hazara, opposed the Taliban, mostly ethnic Pashtuns who massacred thousands of Hazara during their rule.
Persons: Zabardast Safai, Safai, Bamiyan Organizations: Sunni, Islamic, United Nations Locations: KABUL, Afghan, Bamiyan, Afghanistan, Switzerland, Geneva, Hazara, Kabul
FILE PHOTO: An Afghan girl receives free bread distributed by the government, outside a bakery, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Kabul, Afghanistan May 3, 2020. The European Union pledged 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion)over four years at Tuesday’s conference but emphasised aid was conditional on strict requirements. “Afghanistan’s future trajectory must preserve the democratic and human rights gains since 2001, most notably as regards to women and children’s rights,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. Conference organisers have said that a key to getting countries to pledge was adding strict conditions on protecting human rights as well as curbing corruption. Britain said it would pledge $227 million in annual civilian and food aid, France pledged 88 million euros ($104.20 million) and Canada 270 million Canadian dollars ($206.66 million).
Persons: Omar Sobhani, Ashraf Ghani, , Antonio Guterres, Josep Borrell Organizations: REUTERS, Diplomats, European Union, Britain Locations: GENEVA, Afghanistan, Geneva, Kabul, Brussels, , Qatar, Bamyan, EU, Britain, France, Canada, United States
U.N. chief calls for Afghan ceasefire and inclusive peace
  + stars: | 2020-11-24 | by ( Reuters Staff | ) www.reuters.com + 1.00   time to read: 1 min
FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., November 20, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo MunozGENEVA (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Tuesday for an “immediate, unconditional ceasefire” in Afghanistan to create a conducive environment for Doha peace talks with the Taliban. “An inclusive process, in which women, young people and victims of conflict are meaningfully represented, offers the best hope of sustainable peace,” Guterres told an Afghanistan conference in Geneva. “Progress toward peace will contribute to the development of the entire region, and is a vital step towards the safe, orderly and dignified return of millions of displaced Afghans.”
Persons: Antonio Guterres, Eduardo Munoz, ” Guterres, Organizations: United Nations, U.N, REUTERS, Eduardo Munoz GENEVA, Doha, Locations: New York City , New York, U.S, Afghanistan, Geneva
EU calls for Afghan ceasefire, warns against Islamic emirate
  + stars: | 2020-11-24 | by ( Reuters Staff | ) www.reuters.com sentiment -0.98   time to read: 1 min
FILE PHOTO: European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, gives a news briefing at the end an informal video conference of EU Defense minister in Brussels, Belgium November 20, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERSGENEVA (Reuters) - The European Union (EU) foreign policy chief called on Tuesday for an immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan and said that any move to set up an Islamic emirate would affect the bloc’s support. Josep Borrell, EU High Representative, told an Afghanistan fund-raising conference in Geneva: “A ceasefire should not be an outcome of the (peace) processs, it should accompany the process from today...Any attempt to restore an Islamic emirate would have an impact on our political and financial engagement.”
Persons: Josep Borrell, Olivier Hoslet, Organizations: High Representative, Union for Foreign Affairs, EU Defense, REUTERS GENEVA, European Union, EU High Representative Locations: Brussels, Belgium, Afghanistan, Geneva
KABUL, Afghanistan — Rifle fire, hurried footsteps and distant explosions. It could have been any day in Kabul, where targeted assassinations, terrorist attacks and wanton violence have become routine, and the city often feels as if it is under siege. His left hand is tattooed with a skull in a jester’s hat, a grim image offset by his lanky and not-quite-old-enough demeanor. It’s violent. And it’s becoming widely played across Afghanistan, almost as an escape from reality as the 19-year-old war grinds on.
Persons: Safiullah Sharifi, , , Sharifi Locations: KABUL, Afghanistan, Kabul, Qala
Your Monday Briefing
  + stars: | 2020-11-22 | by ( Natasha Frost | ) www.nytimes.com sentiment -1.00   time to read: +1 min
The Kolyma Highway in the Russian Far East once delivered tens of thousands of prisoners to the work camps of Stalin’s gulag. But for many Russians, including former prisoners, the horrors of the gulag are fading. Our reporter and photographer drove along the highway to the remote settlements that are now shrinking and in ruins. Afghanistan talks: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Qatar with Afghan and Taliban negotiators who are trying to break a deadlock in their stalled peace negotiations. On Saturday, a rocket attack in Kabul killed at least eight people, and the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.
Persons: , Andrey Kolyadin, Trump’s, Joe Biden’s, Anthony Blinken, Mike Pompeo, Trump Organizations: Islamic State, Group, U.S Locations: Russian, Pennsylvania, Afghanistan, Qatar, Afghan, Kabul
KABUL—A barrage of rockets struck central Kabul on Saturday morning, hours before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to meet Taliban and Afghan government negotiators in Qatar as the Trump administration seeks to speed the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country. At least eight people were killed and more than 30 others wounded as the rockets slammed into residential neighborhoods and business districts, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry. The ministry said at least 24 rockets were fired from two minivans...
Persons: Mike Pompeo, Trump Organizations: Afghan Interior Ministry Locations: KABUL, Kabul, Afghan, Qatar, U.S
Rockets hit Afghan capital Kabul, at least eight killed
  + stars: | 2020-11-21 | by ( Reuters Staff | ) www.reuters.com sentiment -0.99   time to read: +2 min
KABUL (Reuters) - Several rockets hit residential areas in the early rush hour in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday, killing at least eight civilians and wounding 31, police officials said. Tariq Arian, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said at least eight civilians had been killed in the attack and 31 wounded. A picture of a young brother and sister, whom officials said were killed in their home, was widely shared on Facebook. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travels to Qatar on Saturday to meet with an Afghan delegation and Taliban negotiators. Early this month, several gunmen stormed Kabul University campus and killed at least 35, most of them students and wounded more than 50.
Persons: Tariq Arian, Arian, , Mike Pompeo Organizations: Ministry of Interior, Facebook, Afghan, Kabul University, Islamic State Locations: KABUL, Afghan, Kabul, Afghanistan, Geneva, Iranian, Qatari, Doha, Qatar
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