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Biden to meet with Ghani and Abdullah: White House

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(Last Updated On: June 21, 2021)

US President Joe Biden will meet at the White House with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, on June 25, the White House said on Sunday.

The meeting comes at a critical time when fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban militants has surged, since Biden announced in April that all U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be withdrawn before Sept. 11, ending America’s longest war after nearly 20 years of conflict.

“The visit by President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah will highlight the enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan as the military drawdown continues,” the White House said in a statement.

It added that Washington was committed to supporting the Afghan people by providing diplomatic, economic and humanitarian assistance.

“The United States will remain deeply engaged with the Government of Afghanistan to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for terrorist groups who pose a threat to the U.S. homeland,” it said.

However, the Taliban has staged a months-long campaign to expand its influence across the country as the United States has begun withdrawing troops and closed some bases and handed them over to the Afghan government. The troop withdrawal started on May 1.

Since the United States announced plans in April to pull out all of troops, at least 30 districts have been seized by the Taliban.

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US offers further air support to Afghan troops amid Taliban offensive

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(Last Updated On: July 26, 2021)

The United States will to continue to carry out airstrikes to support Afghan forces facing attack from the insurgent Taliban, a regional U.S. commander said on Sunday as U.S. and other international forces have drawn down troops in Afghanistan.

The Taliban has escalated its offensive in recent weeks, taking rural districts and surrounding provincial capitals, after U.S. President Joe Biden said in April U.S. troops would be withdrawn by September, ending a 20-year foreign military presence.

“The United States has increased airstrikes in support of Afghan forces over the last several days and we’re prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks,” U.S. Marine General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie told a news conference in Kabul.

McKenzie, who leads U.S. Central Command, which controls U.S. forces for a region that includes Afghanistan, declined to say whether U.S. forces would continue airstrikes after the end of their military mission on Aug. 31.

“The government of Afghanistan faces a stern test in the days ahead … The Taliban are attempting to create a sense of inevitability about their campaign,” he said.

But he said a Taliban victory was not inevitable and a political solution remained a possibility.

Afghan government and Taliban negotiators have met in Qatar’s capital, Doha, in recent weeks, although diplomats say there have been few signs of substantive process since peace talks began in September.

Reeling from battlefield losses, Afghanistan’s military is overhauling its war strategy against the Taliban to concentrate forces around the most critical areas like Kabul and other cities, border crossings and vital infrastructure, Afghan and U.S. officials have said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday that the Afghan security forces’ first job was to make sure they could slow the Taliban’s momentum before attempting to retake territory.

McKenzie said there would likely be a rise in violence after a lull over a Muslim holiday this week and said the Taliban could focus on populated urban centres.

“They are going to have to deal with the cities if they want to try and claw their way back into power” he said. “I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that they are going to be able to capture these urban areas.”

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Five security force members ‘brutally killed’ in Kabul: Sources

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2021)

Five security personnel were “brutally” killed by Taliban militants in Shakar Dara district of Kabul, sources said Sunday.

The incident reportedly took place in the Haji Paik area on Friday night.

According to the sources, the Taliban militants first tortured and then killed the men.

Gowhar Khan Baburi, Governor of Shakar Dara district, said Sunday that the militants had installed a checkpoint in the Haji Paik area where they identified the security force members.

The Taliban stated that the victims were members of the Afghan security forces but denied its involvement in the incident.

In a separate incident, two military personnel – including a student from Marshal Fahim Military University – were killed in the Kalakan district of Kabul.

The incident happened in the Pule Baboch area close to the district’s compound on Saturday night, sources said.

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China and Pakistan call for ceasefire in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2021)

Pakistan and China on Saturday called on all Afghan stakeholders to agree to a ceasefire and work together to achieve an inclusive peace agreement and political settlement.

According to Dawn News, the call was made by the two sides during a foreign ministers’ strategic dialogue in Chengdu in Sichuan province in China.

A statement issued by China and Pakistan said the two countries had reaffirmed their commitment to facilitate and support an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” peace and reconciliation process.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation says peace talks are the best way to address Afghanistan issues and that the Taliban cannot impose their “will” on the people of Afghanistan through military force.

Speaking in an interview with Al-Jazeera, Abdullah stated that the Taliban have to seek their goal through peace talks.

“Taliban cannot convert the whole population of Afghanistan into Taliban. Talibanization of Afghanistan is not acceptable,” Abdullah said.

“Peaceful settlement is much better option than the continuation of the war we continue we will continue to make these efforts,” he stated.

“We have different opinions about these things can we find ways to not to fight for imposing our way of life upon the people but to compete for it uh to contest for it through civilian means through peaceful means,” he stressed.

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