Latest News – Ariana News Bringing Afghan News to the World Thu, 05 Dec 2019 17:53:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Afghan Commando Operation Kills 9 Taliban in Urozgan: MoD Thu, 05 Dec 2019 17:35:17 +0000 At least nine Taliban militants were killed in a clearance operation by Afghan Special Commando forces in Urozgan province, Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement on Thursday.

According to the statement, at least 2 other Taliban fighters were wounded in the raid.

MoD added that 14 Anti-personnel mines, 300 kilograms of explosives, three motorbikes and an underground tunnel of the militant group were also discovered and exploded in the operation.

The Taliban has not commented in this regard yet.

Urozgan is a volatile province where Taliban insurgents have significant presence.

IEC Chief Warns It May Announce Results Despite Unfinished Recount Thu, 05 Dec 2019 13:02:46 +0000 The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC), on Thursday, warned that it would announce the preliminary results of 2019 Presidential Election if protesters do not allow vote recount in the seven provinces.

Speaking to journalists, IEC Chief Hawa Alam Nooristani called on protesters to permit vote recount in the provinces, since closure of its offices undermines the independence of the commission.

“If our offices remain closed, we will have to make a decision and announce the results by sharing the data we have with Afghan people.” IEC Chief Nooristani said.” We cannot wait anymore; it is not acceptable for the people.”

However, electoral watchdogs believe that announcement of election results is not possible in the current situation.

“I don’t believe preliminary and final results will be announced in a short time from now. Unfortunately, IEC does not have the capacity to convince the protesters and break this election deadlock,” said Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed, the executive director of Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, head of IEC Secretariat asked assistance from The Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) for opening its offices in the seven provinces.

“We want their cooperation, since a number of sites they had to audit are in these seven provinces.  We should work together and collaborate,” IEC Secretariat Chief Habib Rahman Nang said.

IEEC, however, said that it acted as intermediary between the candidates and election commission but both sides did not compromise.

“Despite monitoring the process, IEEC tried to intervene and mediate between them but they did not listen to our words,” IECC deputy spokesman Fayaz said.

The Afghan Presidential Election was held on September 28 across the country. The IEC has repeatedly failed to announce the preliminary results due to technical problems and widespread protests

Protesters disrupted the vote recount process in seven provinces, citing “transparency”.

They are calling for invalidation of 300,000 controversial votes, votes that they believe are “non-biometric and fraudulent.”

NATO Says Political Solution Needed In Afghanistan Thu, 05 Dec 2019 08:01:36 +0000

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, said on Wednesday that a political solution is needed in Afghanistan for ending the long-term conflict in the country.

Speaking in a press conference in London, Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO welcomes and supports the efforts for the resumption of peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban militant group.
“We need a political negotiated solution in Afghanistan. The US has consulted closely with other NATO Allies and partners throughout the process, both at the political level, but also, of course, for instance, Ambassador Khalilzad has been many times in Brussels,” he said.

It comes as Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation has begun his new trip on Afghan peace in which after a visit to Kabul, he will travel to Qatar to rejoin talks with Taliban negotiators on steps that could lead to a ceasefire and a settlement to the war in Afghanistan, the State Department said in a statement on Wednesday.

“In Doha, Ambassador Khalilzad will rejoin talks with the Taliban to discuss steps that could lead to intra-Afghan negotiations and a peaceful settlement of the war, specifically a reduction in violence that leads to a ceasefire,” read the statement.

Trump declared the peace talks with the Taliban “dead” following an attack in the capital Kabul which killed 12 people in September, including a U.S. service member.

Khalilzad in Kabul for Revival of Peace Talks: Reuters Wed, 04 Dec 2019 11:41:50 +0000 U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Kabul on Wednesday to meet Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to discuss ways of resuming peace talks, Reuters reported citing an Afghan government official.

Khalilzad’s trip comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise Thanksgiving visit to U.S. forces at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan where he met President Ghani and announced that peace talks have restarted with the militant group.

The Afghan government, however, says it is ready for resuming the talks, but only if it is given a seat at the table and the Taliban agrees to a ceasefire.

“In Kabul, Special Representative Khalilzad will meet with Afghan government representatives and other Afghan leaders to follow up on President Trump’s recent visit and to discuss how best to support accelerated efforts to get all parties to intra-Afghan negotiations,” the US Department of State said in a statement. 

In Doha, Ambassador Khalilzad will rejoin talks with the Taliban to discuss steps that could lead to intra-Afghan negotiations and a peaceful settlement of the war, specifically a reduction in violence that leads to a ceasefire.

“The U.S. and Afghan presidents agreed on the resumption of peace negotiations but with close participation and coordination with the Afghan government,” the official told Reuters.

“Our precondition is a reduction of violence leading to a ceasefire, and that is what U.S. want too.”

If talks are resumed, the source added that Khalilzad’s previous format of holding separate negotiations with the Taliban as a preliminary step to later talks between Afghan participants in the conflict cannot be repeated.

Japanese Aid Worker Dies After Attack in Nangarhar Wed, 04 Dec 2019 06:19:52 +0000 Tetsu Nakamura, a Japanese physician, aid worker and head of Peace Japan Medical Services (PMS) died in the hospital after getting seriously wounded by gunmen in Jalalabad city of Nangarhar province, local officials said on Wednesday morning.

According to provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogianai, the incident happened when his car was heading to the provincial capital, Jalalabad and five others including Nakamura’s bodyguards were also killed in the attack.

Khogiani further added that the gunmen fled the scene but police started investigations.

No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

However, the Taliban militant in a statement denied its involvement in the attack, adding that the PMS was not a military target for the group.

The Afghan government strongly condemned the “heinous and cowardice attack on Afghan’s greatest friend, Dr. Nakmora,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi tweeted.” who has dedicated all his life to change the lives of Afghans, working on water management, dams and improving traditional agriculture in Afghanistan.”

UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan in a tweet condemned and expressed its revulsion at the killing of the Japanese aid worker,  calling it “a senseless act of violence against a man who dedicated much of his life to helping most vulnerable.

Nakamura was a Japanese aid worker who served as head of Peace Japan Medical Services in Nangarhar province. His humanitarian works were focused on providing medical services to villages and Afghan refugees in eastern Afghanistan provinces, while from 2003, he began working to improve irrigation conditions in rural areas of the country.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani granted him honorary citizenship for his 15 years of service to people of Afghanistan and his humanitarian work in the country, fighting against water scarcity.

US Troop Drawdowns In Afghanistan ‘Not Tied’ to Taliban Deal: Esper Tue, 03 Dec 2019 15:51:39 +0000 U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday that any future troop drawdowns in Afghanistan were “not necessarily” linked to a deal with Taliban insurgents, suggesting some lowering of force levels may happen irrespective of the ongoing peace push.

The remarks by Esper in an interview with Reuters came on the heels of a Thanksgiving trip last week to Afghanistan by President Donald Trump, who spoke of potential troop reductions and said he believed the Taliban insurgency would agree to a ceasefire in the 18-year-old war.

If honored by all sides, a ceasefire could lead to a significant reduction in violence. But U.S. military commanders would still focus on the threats associated with two other militant groups in Afghanistan: Islamic State and al Qaeda.

Speaking as he flew to London for a NATO summit, Esper said the Trump administration had been discussing potential reductions in troop levels for some time, both internally and with NATO allies.

“I feel confident that we could reduce our numbers in Afghanistan and still ensure that place doesn’t become a safe haven for terrorists who could attack the United States,” Esper said, without offering a figure.

“And our allies agree we can make reductions as well.”

Asked whether such reductions would necessarily be contingent on some sort of agreement with the Taliban insurgency, Esper said: “Not necessarily.”

He did not elaborate.

There are currently about 13,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan as well as thousands of other NATO troops. U.S. officials have said U.S. forces could drop to 8,600 and still carry out an effective, core counter-terrorism mission as well as some limited advising for Afghan forces.

A draft accord agreed in September before peace talks collapsed would have withdrawn thousands of American troops in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militant attacks on the United States or its allies.

Still, many U.S. officials privately doubt the Taliban could be relied upon to prevent al Qaeda from again plotting attacks against the United States from Afghan soil.

Esper did not hint at any developments in the coming days or suggest that new troop drawdowns in Afghanistan might figure into NATO discussions this week.

“I don’t think there’s any ‘new’ news right now, if you will. We’ve been discussing this for quite some time,” Esper said, when asked if he would raise the issue in London.

About 2,484 U.S. service members have been killed in the Afghan conflict and many thousands more wounded.

Source: News Agencies

Ariana News Airs Five Programs From BBC Persian Tue, 03 Dec 2019 13:12:17 +0000

The BBC’s Persian Television Service and Ariana News, Afghanistan’s leading TV channels, have launched a content partnership.

Ariana News, a division of the Ariana Radio & Television Network (ATN), will now broadcast Shast Daqiqa (60 Minutes), the BBC Persian’s flagship news and analysis program Saturday to Wednesday. In addition, ATN will air additional BBC programmes, including current affairs program Safheh Do (Page Two Weekend), interview programme Ba-ebarat-e-Digar (HARDtalk), current affairs programme Pargar (Compass), and Click, the guide to digital technology.

BBC Persian has a global weekly audience of 21m on TV, radio, website and social media. It currently reaches around 8.5m people in Afghanistan every week.

BBC Persian reaches 12.1 m people in Afghanistan every week, 59% of the adult population, with content from BBC News Afghanistan in Dari and Pashto, BBC News Persian, BBC News Uzbek and the BBC English-language news content on TV, radio and digital.

Simon Kendall, the BBC World Service Director of Business Development, said: “We are delighted that through this new partnership with Ariana News a suite of BBC News Persian programs will be available to audiences in Afghanistan. We are excited to be increasing BBC presence on TV in the region and we hope that audiences will enjoy our programs alongside our digital and audio offer. We look forward to working with Ariana as we establish this important new agreement.”

Ali Kasemi, ATN Group’s Managing Director, stated that the collaboration between the two TV channels is an opportunity for Ariana News “to bring the world to Afghan viewers.”

“ATN was founded in 2005 with a mission to provide our viewers with a ‘Window to the World’ so that all Afghans could watch, share, and enjoy the best global news, entertainment, sports and information from around the world,” Kasemi said. “We are very proud to be adding BBC News Persian’s award-winning programming to our content package, and we see this partnership as an exciting continuation of our commitment to bring the world to Afghan viewers and families around the nation.”

Shast Daqiqa will air at 23.00 Kabul Time Saturday to Wednesday; Pargar – 12.00 on Sundays; Ba-ebarat-e-Digar – 20.30 on Tuesdays; Safheh Do – 23.00 on Thursdays; Click – 21.30 on Fridays.

BBC Persian TV is broadcast via satellite (Hotbird, YahSat and Telstar 12), and is streamed live online via BBC Persian’s official website and YouTube channel.

BBC Persian also reaches its audience via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram. BBC Persian radio broadcasts are visualized, enabling audiences to also watch radio programs on TV and digital platforms.

Khalid, Miller Meets VP Dostum in Jawjzan Mon, 02 Dec 2019 17:55:22 +0000 Afghan Acting Defense Minister Assadullah Khalid, and General Scott Miller, the Commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, visited Jawjzan province on Sunday and met with First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum.

Addressing the journalists after the meeting, VP Dostum expressed concern over the delay in announcement of Presidential Election result and called on Independent Election Commission to come up with a solution.

“IEC has its law and procedure, therefore instead of making people concerned,  it should announce a result. IEC should announce preliminary results. Today we discussed the security of northern provinces,” said Dostum.

Meanwhile, the two top Afghan and U.S. military officials stated that future operations and security of northern provinces were discussed in their meeting.

“Security issues and our programs for future operations were discussed in the meeting,” Khalid said.” “The election is one of the hot topics discussed these days, but those issues will be addressed by those who are responsible for them.”

Gen. Miller also said the purpose of his trip was” talking about operations in the north and just making sure we are coordinated across all the security pillars.”

New Law Grants Pension Right to Private Sector Employees Mon, 02 Dec 2019 14:23:34 +0000 The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, on Monday, announced that a new regulation of pension for the employees of private sector and non-governmental organizations has been approved by the Presidential Palace.

According to the statement, the regulation has been drafted by the Ministry in three chapters and 22 articles and is in effect.

“Based on the legislative document, NGOs and private sector are obligated to pay their staff one month salary for every year of work,” read the statement.

Moreover, the ministry added that the regulation is the first legal document on the pension for employees of non-governmental organizations and it is a great step, given that a large number of Afghans are hired by private sector.

Labor condition in Afghanistan is said to be one of the poorest in the world.

Apart from non employment, adverse working conditions and the predominance of informal work, as well as lacking social protection are the problems that dominate the Afghan job market,

Taliban Designated Judge Among Six Killed in Kapisa Mon, 02 Dec 2019 05:59:01 +0000

Kapisa Province police have confirmed that Afghan Special Forces have killed at least six Taliban militants.

The air and ground operations were conducted by Afghan Special Forces in Badrab village of Kapisa’s Tagab district at around 10 pm on Sunday.

The provincial police spokesman, Abdul Shayeq Shurish told Ariana News that the operations were undertaken to eliminate Taliban insurgents in the district.

Shurish said, at least six militants were killed, including a Taliban designated judge and the group’s key commander for Tagab District. Two of the insurgents have been identified as Qari Khushal and Zikrullah.  He said no casualties were inflicted on Afghan security forces.

Tagab is among the volatile districts in Kapisa where the Taliban insurgent group has a significant presence and regularly carries out attacks on Afghan Government forces.

Afghan Government Terminates Gold, Copper Mining Contracts Sun, 01 Dec 2019 16:14:16 +0000

The Afghan Government has terminated the contracts given to two companies for the operation of a gold mine in Badakhshan’s and Sar-e Pul’s Balkhab copper mine.

The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP), said on Sunday that President Ashraf Ghani ordered the termination of the contracts during a High Economic Council meeting last week.

“A few days ago, the High Economic Council decided to terminate the contracts of the Badakhshan’s gold mines and Sar-e Pul’s Balkhab copper mine,” said MoMP spokesman Abdul Qadir Mutfi.

Mutfi stated that the contracts were terminated because the companies could not fulfill the commitments they made during the bidding process. The primary issue was the failure of the companies to fulfill their financial commitment. The two companies were supposed to invest $87 million in these projects. 

In 2012, a Turkish/Afghan consortium and an English company won bidding for Badakhshan gold mines and Balkhab’s copper mine. A former government minister was the primary shareholder in one of the companies.

Freed Taliban Hostage Australian Professor Says He Never Gave Up Hope Sun, 01 Dec 2019 13:31:38 +0000

Timothy Weeks, an Australian professor who was recently freed by the Taliban in a prisoner swap said that the “long and tortuous ordeal” had an intense effect on him.

Speaking in a press conference in Sydney on Sunday, Weeks, 50, said that hope helped him survive the ordeal.

Weeks and Kevin King, the two professors at The American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) were abducted by the Taliban militant group in August 2016 outside the University in Kabul.

“At times, I felt as if my death was imminent and that I would never return to see those that I loved again,” Weeks said adding, “But, by the will of God, I am here. I am alive and I am safe. And I am free.”

“There is nothing else in the world that I need,” he said.

He said that he had never given up hope, although his freedom took longer than he expected.

“I never, ever gave up hope, and I think in that sort of situation, that if you give up hope, there is very little left for you,” said Weeks.

“I knew that I would leave that place eventually. It just took a little longer than I expected,” he added.

Weeks added that he believed that Navy SEAL teams tried repeatedly to rescue them, sometimes missing them only by “hours” after the two hostages were moved to other locations by their captors.

“I believe, and I hope this is correct, that they came in six times to try to get us, and that a number of times they missed us only by hours,” Weeks said.

One attempt came in April this year. Weeks said he was woken at 2 a.m. by his guards, who told him they were under attack from Islamic State fighters, and moved him into a tunnel beneath where they were being held.

“I believe now that it was the Navy SEALs coming in to get us,” Weeks said. “I believe they were right outside our door. The moment that we got into the tunnels, we were 1 or 2 meters underground and there was a huge bang at the front door. And our guards went up and there was a lot of machine-gun fire. They pushed me over the top into the tunnels and I fell backward and rolled and knocked myself unconscious.”

Weeks said he and King were shifted through various remote locations in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan throughout their captivity and were often kept in tiny, windowless cells.

“After almost 1,200 days our ordeal ended as abruptly as it had begun and a Black Hawk helicopter lifted me from the parched soils of Afghanistan. Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who worked on the long and complex process that led to our final release,” he said.

Weeks and King were freed in November 2019, in exchange for three senior Taliban militants including Anas Haqqani, Hafez Rashid, and Mali Khan. The prisoner exchange was part of an effort to develop good-will and confidence-building measures which may help the Afghan peace process.

Afghan Forces Recapture Helmand’s Marja District Sat, 30 Nov 2019 14:31:12 +0000

Government forces reclaimed control of the Marja District of southern Helmand province after four years of effort, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) has confirmed.

Marja was recaptured after the Afghan Security and Defense Forces conducted a clearance operation to crackdown on the presence of Taliban militants in the district.

In a statement released on Saturday, the MoD said that heavy casualties have been inflicted on the militants. At least 37 Taliban insurgents were killed, including Mullah Abdulbari, the organization’s military commander for the district.

During the operation, Afghan security forces destroyed two Taliban explosive depots and six Taliban strongholds. Afghan security forces also defused at least 103 roadside mines, which were planted by the Taliban.

MoD did not provide further details on the casualties of Afghan forces.

The District fell to the Taliban in November 2015 after a four-day clash between the Taliban and Afghan forces.

Earlier today, Brig. Gen. Zahirgul Muqbil, an army regiment commander of Afghan border forces was killed in a roadside mine blast. However, the Taliban has claimed that they have targeted Muqbil while his convoy was heading to the closing program of operation in the district.

Helmand is a volatile province in the south of the country where the Taliban militants are actively operating in a number of its districts.

NATO Welcomes ‘Contacts and Talks’ Between US, Taliban Sat, 30 Nov 2019 12:25:35 +0000

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, said on Friday that he welcomes “contacts and talks” between the United States and the Taliban militant group aimed at achieving a political settlement in Afghanistan.

Addressing a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on Friday, Jens Stoltenberg said that as NATO continues to support Afghan security forces to create the conditions for peace in Afghanistan, the “Taliban needs to make real compromises to achieve a credible deal.”

“Secretary Pompeo has discussed, briefed [the] Allies. Ambassador Khalilzad had briefed [the] Allies, discussed this with Allies. And we are consulting all the time because it’s not the only US that is in Afghanistan but you have to remember that there are also many non-US troops in Afghanistan,” he said.

Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO’s presence in Afghanistan remains its “biggest” military operation outside Europe and he emphasized that NATO’s mission is “to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists.”

“It’s extremely important that we avoid or prevent ISIS to establish themselves in Afghanistan, or to try to re-establish a kind of terrorist caliphate in Afghanistan, which they lost in the Levant,” he noted.

“It’s extremely important that we avoid or prevent ISIS to establish themselves in Afghanistan, or to try to re-establish a kind of terrorist caliphate in Afghanistan, which they lost in the Levant,” he noted.

Referring to the Taliban, the Secretary-General said that the militant group will not win on the battlefield; therefore, they have to sit down at the negotiating table and make real compromises.

“We think that the best way we can make sure that there is a credible deal, a real deal, is that we continue to support the Afghan security forces, sending a message to Taliban that we are ready to stay, we are committed,” Jens Stoltenberg said adding, “but of course, we also welcome any efforts to try to find a peaceful, negotiated solution, including, of course, reduction of violence.”

The Secretary-General’s comments come as U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to U.S. Troops in Afghanistan where he declared that he had reopened talks with the Taliban militant group.

“The Taliban wants to make a deal and we’re meeting with them and we’re saying it has to be a cease-fire and they didn’t want to do a cease-fire, and now they do want to do a cease-fire,” Trump said. “I believe it’ll probably work out that way.”

Since 2001, 2,400 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history. The U.S. has spent more than $900 billion on everything from military operations to the construction of roads, bridges and power plants.

Border Forces Commander Killed in Helmand Blast Sat, 30 Nov 2019 07:03:03 +0000

Zahirgul Muqbil, commander of Afghan Border Forces in Helmand Province, was killed in a blast on Saturday morning.  At least three others including a local journalist and two Afghan soldiers were wounded.

According to provincial spokesman Omar Zawak, the incident happened when a military convoy of Afghan forces and local journalists heading to the Marjah District, was targeted by a mine explosion.

Meanwhile, Shamshad TV Network, in a tweet, confirmed that Sardar Mohammad Sarwari, a local reporter working for the network, was wounded in the explosion.

No organization has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Helmand is a volatile province in southern Afghanistan where insurgents have a significant presence in a number of its districts and outskirts of the city.

Air Strike Kills Key Taliban Commander in Kapisa Province Fri, 29 Nov 2019 17:04:08 +0000 Qari Nazar Gul, head of the Taliban military commission for Kapisa Province, was killed in an airstrike in Ala Sai District of the province, local police officials told Ariana News.

According to provincial police spokesman Shayeq Shorish, the air raid was conducted by Afghan forces at approximately 7 pm on Thursday night.

Shorish stated that Nazar Gul was an important Taliban commander who played a key rule in most of the anti-governmental operations in the province.

Ala Sai is Kapisa’s most insecure district where the Taliban exerts control over much of the district.

Abdullah’s Supporters March in Kabul Demanding Invalidation of 300,000 Votes Fri, 29 Nov 2019 14:40:28 +0000 Thousands of Supporters of Stability and Convergence electoral ticket led by Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah held rally in Kabul city on Friday.

Marching from different point in the city, protesters gathered near the presidential palace where a statement was read.

In the statement, Abdullah’s team asked for the ‘immediate” invalidation of 300,000 controversial votes, votes that they believe are “non-biometric and fraudulent.”

Senior members of the Stability and Convergence campaign team, including two vice presidents of the team and several other politicians were among the protesters.

“It is a warning to IEC to return back to its main pathway, otherwise people would drive the cheaters out of Presidential Palace,” said Assadulah Saadati, the Second Vice President in Abdullah’s electoral team.

Moreover, protesters warned that they would use any legitimate means, if their requests are not addressed by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the government.

“We will not allow anyone to rule the people of Afghanistan through fraud,” Abdullah’s First Running VP Enayatullah Babur Farahmand said.

“If the Commission acts contrary to law, we will also violate law,” said Hamayon Hamayon, a senior member of the electoral ticket.

The Afghan Presidential Election was held on September 28 across the country. The IEC has repeatedly failed to announce the preliminary results due to technical problems and widespread protests.

Key members of Abdullah’s team claim that if these 300,000 controversial votes are invalidated, the campaign team will secure fifty plus one vote to be announced as the winner of the presidential election.

However, officials in the Independent Election Commission emphasized that the Commission will not make any decision about the controversial votes before ending the partial vote recount process.

According to officials, the IEC has completed the process of partial vote recount in 26 provinces, the process is ongoing in one province, and the seven provinces are still remaining due to the refusals by supporters of protesting candidates.

Trump Visits Afghanistan, Says Peace Talks With Taliban Have Restarted Fri, 29 Nov 2019 13:31:33 +0000

U.S. President Donald Trump made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to U.S. Troops in Afghanistan where he declared that he had reopened talks with the Taliban militant group.

Arriving at Bagram Airfield at around 08:30 p.m. local time, President Trump spent more than two and half hours delivering Thanksgiving greetings to U.S. forces, serving them turkey and meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Bagram, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan.

During his meeting with President Ghani, Mr. Trump announced that he had restarted peace talks with Taliban that he called off almost three month ago.

“The Taliban wants to make a deal and we’re meeting with them and we’re saying it has to be a cease-fire and they didn’t want to do a cease-fire, and now they do want to do a cease-fire,” Trump said. “I believe it’ll probably work out that way.”

President Trump also said that the U.S. was “substantially” reducing troop numbers.

“We’ve made tremendous progress and at the same time we’ve been drawing down our troops,” Trump said.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in his remarks at Bagram Airfield thanked U.S troops for their “ultimate sacrifices” and praised Trump’s South Asia strategy for “wiping out ISIS and Al Qaeda.”

He also expressed appreciations to Trump for his “very principled decisions regarding putting limits on the type of peace that will ensure the gains of the past year and ensure your security and our security.”

President Trump’s sudden announcement on peace talks comes about three months after he “called off” the peace negotiations with the Taliban leaders after the group carried out an attack in Kabul in which one American and 11 others were killed.

Last week, three prisoners of the insurgent group were exchanged for two western professors as an effort to revive the negotiations with the Taliban.

Extra Vote Recount Forms “Illegally” Sent to Provinces: Abdullah Thu, 28 Nov 2019 15:07:48 +0000 The Independent Election Commission’s Secretariat has sent 250 extra vote recount result forms to Kandahar province and 25 other to Kapisa province, IEC commissioner Mawalana Abdullah said on Thursday, adding that the forms have been sent without approval of the commission.

According to Abdullah, sending extra forms without prior approval of IEC is illegal and must be investigated.

“Sending extra forms without plan, transparency and approval of the commission is repeating 2018 election. Those responsible must be held accountable,“ said Mawlana Abdullah.

However, IEC Chief Hawa Nooristani and IEC Commissioner Hanif Daneshyar left the press conference during his statements, calling them as “personal issues.’

“Sending 250 extra forms to Kandahar is a crime. Why have they sent 25 forms to Kapisa? Not being informed about it shows the weakness of a commissioner,” Abdullah added

Meanwhile, Habib Rahman Nang, head of the IEC Secretariat rejects allegations made by Mawlana Abdullah, saying,” Not one extra form has been sent to the provinces.”

According to officials, the IEC has completed the process of partial vote recount in 26 provinces, the process is ongoing in one province, and the seven provinces are still remaining due to the refusals by supporters of protesting candidates.

The Afghan Presidential Election was held on September 28 across the country. The IEC has repeatedly failed to announce the preliminary results due to technical problems and widespread protests.

Premature Car Bomb Explosion Damages Civilian Houses Thu, 28 Nov 2019 07:50:10 +0000 A Taliban car bomb went off in a residential area in northern Sar-e-Pul province of Afghanistan after Afghan security forces attempted to prevent the suicide bombers from entering into the main part of the city, the Afghan army said on Thursday.

The 209th Shaheen Corps said, the blast damaged 10 houses and injured 13 civilians.

Militants wanted to drive the explosives packed vehicle to the provincial capital through Sayyad district and planned to target governmental institutions, the statement added.

According to the statement, the car bomb went off after a clash broke out between Afghan forces and the militants.

Taliban has not commented yet about the report.