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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
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
Photos: The novel coronavirus outbreak Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a news conference on Thursday, November 19. Hide Caption 10 of 427Photos: The novel coronavirus outbreak People shop at an outside market in Berlin on October 27. Hide Caption 62 of 427Photos: The novel coronavirus outbreak A worker disinfects a public school in Brasilia, Brazil, on August 5. Hide Caption 65 of 427Photos: The novel coronavirus outbreak Elementary school students walk to class in Godley, Texas, on August 5. The shelter, which hosts 470 asylum seekers, was placed in isolation after a pregnant resident tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
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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
GENEVA (Reuters) - Foreign donors pledged a projected $12 billion in civilian aid to Afghanistan over the next four years at a conference on Tuesday, but many made it conditional on protecting human rights and making progress on peace talks in a major shake-up for the country’s economy. The United States said it had pledged $300 million in civilian aid to Afghanistan next year and would make available another $300 million based on progress in peace talks. “We stand ready to support Afghanistan and to that end we’ve made available $600 million for civilian assistance needs in 2021. The United States has contributed roughly $800 million a year in civilian aid in recent years. The European Union pledged 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion)over four years but emphasised aid was conditional.
Persons: Omar Sobhani Ville, We’re, David Hale, Hale, , Mohammad Haneef Atmar, Omar Joya, , Josep Borrell Organizations: REUTERS, Diplomats, United, State, Political, The United, Qatari, Doha, Taliban, Reuters, Biruni Institute, European Union Locations: GENEVA, Afghanistan, Kabul, United States, U.S, Geneva, The United States, Germany, Bamyan, EU
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. Keeping financing on a tight rein could provide foreign governments with some leverage to inject a greater sense of urgency into the peace process, diplomats said. The European Union pledged 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion)over four years but emphasised aid was conditional on strict requirements. Britain, one of the country’s top bilateral donors, said in a statement it would pledge $227 million in annual civilian and food aid. Now is not the time to walk away,” said Deborah Lyons, head of the UN’s mission to Afghanistan.
Persons: Omar Sobhani, Ashraf Ghani, Antonio Guterres, , Josep Borrell, Deborah Lyons Organizations: REUTERS, UN, European Union, United Nations Locations: GENEVA, Afghanistan, Geneva, Kabul, Brussels, Qatar, Britain, Finland, United States,
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
Many donors also put strict conditions on future funding and some officially committed for just the next year. The United States pledged $600 million in civilian aid to Afghanistan next year but made half of it conditional on progress in peace talks. “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 European Union pledged 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion)over four years on Tuesday but emphasised aid was conditional. France pledged 88 million euros ($104.20 million) and Canada 270 million Canadian dollars ($206.66 million).
Persons: Omar Sobhani Ville, “ We’re, David Hale, Hale, , , Josep Borrell Organizations: REUTERS, United, Diplomats, State, Political, Qatari, Doha, Taliban, European Union, Britain Locations: GENEVA, Afghanistan, Kabul, United States, U.S, Germany, Bamyan, Brussels, EU, Britain, Canada
U.S., Other Foreign Donors Pledge Billions in Aid to Afghanistan
  + stars: | 2020-11-24 | by ( Sune Engel Rasmussen | ) www.wsj.com sentiment -0.96   time to read: 1 min
LONDON—The U.S., European Union and other international donors pledged billions of dollars in aid to war-torn Afghanistan, but said disbursement would depend on progress in talks between Kabul and the Taliban to end nearly two decades of fighting. Over 100 countries and organizations committed about $3 billion in total development support to Afghanistan for 2021 at a quadrennial aid conference in Geneva, which was hosted virtually by the United Nations, Finland and Afghanistan this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizations: United Locations: U.S, Union, Afghanistan, Kabul, Geneva, United Nations, Finland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A team of rivals it is not. The following are some of the policy issues that Blinken and Sullivan, who served at the State Department and then as Biden’s chief foreign policy adviser in the Obama administration, will face as they seek to turn the page on President Donald Trump’s sometimes chaotic foreign policy:CHINAChina is expected to be the main challenge for Biden’s foreign policy team at a time when relations between Washington and Beijing have sunk to the lowest point in decades. Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said the Biden team should beware of getting bogged down in formal dialogues with Beijing. In withdrawing from the deal, Trump restored U.S. sanctions and has imposed many more in a failed effort so far to force Iran into negotiations. What is less clear, however, is how Blinken and the rest of Biden’s team will deal with North Korea.
Persons: Joe Biden, Joshua Roberts, Antony Blinken, Jake Sullivan, Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, Blinken, Sullivan, Obama, Donald Trump’s, Trump, Biden, ” Blinken, Xi Jinping, , Bonnie Glaser, , RUSSIA Blinken, Vladimir Putin, ” Biden, IRAN Sullivan, NORTH KOREA Blinken, Kim Jong Un, denuclearization, Kim, al Organizations: WASHINGTON, U.S Conference, Mayors, REUTERS, White House, Senate Foreign Relations, State Department, Beijing, Center for Strategic, International Studies, Obama, CBS, NORTH KOREA, North, CBS News, Trump, Taliban Locations: Wilmington , Delaware, U.S, CHINA China, Washington, Beijing, China, America, Hong Kong, South China, RUSSIA, Russia, Crimea, Ukraine, Moscow, IRAN, Iran, Tehran, North Korea, United States, Pyongyang, AFGHANISTAN, Afghanistan, Kabul, al Qaeda, Syria
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
President Donald Trump is enacting new rules, regulations, and orders that it hopes will box in President-elect Joe Biden's administration on numerous foreign-policy matters. WASHINGTON (AP) — On its way out the door, the Trump administration is enacting new rules, regulations and orders that it hopes will box in President-elect Joe Biden's administration on numerous foreign policy matters and cement President Donald Trump's "America First" legacy in international affairs. Last week, the State Department's policy planning office released a 70-page China policy strategy document. The Trump administration had said it wasn't interested in extending the New START treaty unless China also joined, something Beijing has rejected. As the transition to the Biden administration approaches, those negotiations remain a work in progress.
Persons: Donald Trump, Joe Biden's, Biden, Trump, Donald Trump's, Mike Pompeo, Dinuka Liyanawatte, Pompeo, Israel Pompeo, Gabi Ashkenazi, Patrick Semansky, Majid Saeedi, Xi Jinping, Thomas Peter, wasn't, it's Organizations: , House, State Department, Democratic, Trump, Paris Climate Accord, Trans, Partnership, REUTERS, West Bank, Israel, Palestinian Authority, UN, Iran, Pentagon, Reuters, China, Huawei, Thomson Reuters Sunday Locations: Trump's America, WASHINGTON, Iran, Israel, China, Colombo, Sri Lanka, United States, Paris, Golan, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tehran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Baghdad, Kabul, Iranian, it's, Beijing, Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, South China, Washington, Russia
(Reuters) - Afghanistan faces funding cuts and tighter restrictions on vital aid from an international donor conference this week, marking further challenges for a nation torn by two decades of war and now ravaged by COVID-19. The strategy aims to protect the peace talks and prod the Afghan government to improve allocation, they said. Donors at the last conference, in Brussels in 2016, pledged $15.2 billion for 2017 to 2020, or $3.8 billion a year. The peace talks in the Qatari capital Doha have stalled and the Taliban refuses to call a ceasefire. But senior diplomats told Reuters that a breakthrough was expected in the peace talks after the donor conference.
Persons: Trump, ” Trump, , Ashraf Ghani, ” Naser Sidiqee, Ghani’s Organizations: Reuters, Bank, Pentagon, Qatari, Doha, U.S, Western Locations: Afghanistan, COVID, Geneva, Kabul, Brussels, Western, Britain, U.S
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
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with a Taliban delegation hours after mortar shells slammed into different parts of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, on Saturday, killing at least eight people. The mortar barrage came as Pompeo was preparing to meet with representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban, who are holding talks in the Arabian Gulf nation of Qatar, though progress has been slow. Abdullah Abdullah, the Afghan government's chief negotiator in peace talks, condemned Saturday's attack in a tweet calling it a "cowardly" act. Members of Taliban's peace negotiation team met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Qatari capital Doha, on Saturday. There have been calls for a cease-fire if peace talks in Doha are to continue.
Persons: Mike Pompeo, Tariq Arian, Pompeo, Zabihullah Mujahid, Akbar Khan, Abdullah Abdullah, Saturday's, Patrick Semansky, Christopher Miller, Miller, Donald Trump's, Jens Stoltenberg, Stoltenberg Organizations: Taliban, NBC News, ISIS, SITE Intelligence Group, NBC, Iranian Embassy, Qatari, Doha, Getty, The U.S, Pentagon, U.S, Capitol, NATO, United, Associated Press Locations: Kabul, Arabian, Qatar, Iranian, AFP, Qatar's, Doha, Afghanistan, U.S, Iraq, United States
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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