Taliban Launches Attack in Central Afghanistan Amid Intra-Afghan Summit in Qatar

Taliban Launches Attack in Central Afghanistan Amid Intra-Afghan Summit in Qatar

The Taliban are meeting with US negotiators and Afghan representatives in Doha as the USA pushes to end its 18-year involvement in Afghanistan, but violence from the insurgents and the USA military has continued apace. "Walking away", said United States envoy Khalilzad.

"For the first time, I can say we have had substantive discussions, negotiations, and progress on all four issues".

The blast in a crowded area of Ghazni city was the latest in a wave of near-daily attacks by the Taliban, who now hold sway over about half of Afghanistan and continue to intensify attacks on Afghan forces despite increased U.S. efforts toward a peace agreement to end the 18-year war.

But the spokesman of the Taliban's political office in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, said the Taliban will respect freedom of speech, women's rights, and other human rights values within the framework of Islamic laws and principles.

"We are happy with progress and hope the rest of the work is also done. We have not faced any obstacles yet".

Government officials in the southern provinces of Logar and Helmand said the Afghan forces had conducted several air strikes on Taleban hideouts in the last 36 hours, killing over 30 insurgents.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that the Afghan gathering "has been a long time coming" and praised the country's "government, civil society, women, and Taliban" for coming together.

The apparent USA breakthrough with the Taliban is simply because the Trump administration made a concession by agreeing to negotiate even though the insurgents are not talking to Kabul, she said.

The US envoy likewise emphasised that those attending the intra-Afghan dialogue would be there only in their personal capacity.

The United States, which by some estimates has spent $1 trillion in Afghanistan, will likely try to insist in the agreement that the Taliban open negotiations with President Ashraf Ghani's government.

Ghani's administration, which the Taliban consider a puppet regime, has also been excluded from the direct US-Taliban talks.

Speaking on the sidelines, Khalilzad said the Intra-Afghan talks should lead to negotiations that should eventually bring peace to the strife-torn country.

Abdul Hai Khateby, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the Taliban planted the mine apparently to thwart a planned Afghan military offensive to retake nearby areas under the militants' control.

Some Afghan officials fear the United States and the Taliban will strike a deal enabling the United States to get out of a war that President Donald Trump is impatient to end, leaving government forces to battle on alone.

In April, the Taliban announced the beginning of its spring offensive in Afghanistan despite involvement in the peace talks with the US. The official told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity that the USA "definitely did not offer" a withdrawal as part of a peace deal.

"We want to go to the dialogue but they are not letting us", Stanekzai said to an officer, who replied: "We are not joking with you, stop shouting at us".

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