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U.S., Taliban Make ‘Meaningful’ Progress in Fifth Round of Talks in Doha

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(Last Updated On: April 22, 2019)

Deputy Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department Robert Palladino has said the U.S. and Taliban representatives have had ‘meaningful” progress in the fifth round of peace talks in Qatar which ended on Tuesday.

“These have been the most substantive talks with the Taliban to date,” Palladino told reporters on Tuesday.

He stressed that the Taliban have agreed that peace will require both sides to fully address four “core” issues including counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive cease-fire.

 “When that agreement, in draft, is finalized, the Taliban and an inclusive Afghan negotiating team that includes the Afghan Government and other Afghans will begin intra-Afghan negotiations of a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire,” Palladino said.

It comes as the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said that he was returning for consultations with partners after wrapping up the U.S. longest round of consecutive peace talks with Taliban in Doha.

He said they have “agreed in draft” on the issues of counter-terrorism assurances and troop pullout from Afghanistan.

“My next step is discussions in Washington and consultations with other partners. We will meet again soon, and there is no final agreement until everything is agreed,” Khalilzad tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Taliban in a statement on Tuesday also confirmed that the sides agreed in a draft regarding the two issues.

“Both sides will deliberate over the achieved progress, share it with their respective leaderships and prepare for the upcoming meeting, the date of which shall be set by both negotiation teams,” the statement said.

Around 14,000 U.S. troops are based in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces, while many Afghans are concerned of abrupt U.S. pullout from the war-torn country, following the peace talks.

By: Ahmad Zubair Habibzada

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Ghani orders establishment of new council to empower Afghan women

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2020)

President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday signed a decree to establish is High Council for Women aimed at empowering Afghan women.

“President Ashraf Ghani, in accordance with the national constitution, issued a decree to establish the Women’s High Council,” the president’s office said in a statement.

According to the statement, the Council will be led by Ghani and will focus on “women empowerment ensuring women’s rights.”

“The Council will be led by H.E the President and will focus on women empowerment, ensuring women’s rights, increasing coordination with our international partners, and better policy execution,” the statement said.

Based on the decree 26 representatives from different sectors of society will be members of the Council.

“Based on the decree, including the female deputy provincial governors, women advocates, and civil activists, 26 representatives from governmental entities and non-government organizations will be the members of the Council,” read the statement.

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Historical Takhar school gutted in blaze

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2020)

The historical Abus Osman Taloqani High School in Takhar province was believed to have been intentionally set on fire on Thursday, local officials confirmed.

Abu Osman Taloqani High School, in the provincial capital Taloqan, was destroyed in the blaze.

Currently about 3,000 students are registered at the education facility.

Footage on social media Thursday showed how chairs, desks, documents, and books inside the building were completely destroyed.

Takhar education officials have not yet commented on the incident and no group or individual has claimed responsibility for setting fire to the school.

The Taliban, however, denied any involvement in the incident, saying that the group had nothing to with the fire at the school which is located close to police and NDS headquarters in Taloqan.

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Kapisa police official killed in Taliban attack

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2020)

Taliban militants gunned down an Afghan police official on Thursday in Parwan province, a local official confirmed.

Abdul Shayiq Shurish, a spokesman for Kapisa police told Ariana News that Suliaman, the battalion commander of Kapisa police brigade, was killed by the Taliban at around 9 a.m. Thursday in Sayad village of Parwan.

Meanwhile, a clash broke out between the Afghan forces and the insurgents in Shaker village in the Tagab district of Kapisa at around 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

Shurish said, at least two local army soldiers were killed and another one was wounded in the battle.

Four civilians including women and children were also injured in the clash, he added.

Shurish claimed that the Afghan forces have inflicted casualties on the Taliban, saying that details yet to be determined.

The Taliban yet to comment on the incidents.

It comes as the intra-Afghan talks are expected to start next week in Doha, where the government and the Taliban delegations would negotiate a political settlement for ending the conflict in the war-weary country.

The government negotiating team is expected to negotiate a comprehensive ceasefire in the first round of talks.

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