Friday, 22 June, 2018

Taliban, Afghan officials in ceasefire talks: U.S. general

A group of armed militants launched a coordinated attack on the compound of the Ministry of Interior in Kabul city at around noon time today A group of armed militants launched a coordinated attack on the compound of the Ministry of Interior in Kabul city at around noon time today
Charlie Simmons | 31 May, 2018, 21:02

While speaking hopefully of peace prospects, Nicholson also told reporters that U.S. rocket artillery struck a gathering of Taliban commanders on May 24 in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, killing "dozens".

Army Gen. John Nicholson said the talks, involving mid-level and senior-level Taliban fighters, are at a preliminary stage and are taking place nearly entirely behind-the-scenes. He asserted there are "many points of intersection" between Taliban and Afghan proposals for pursuing peace.

US forces killed over 50 Taliban leaders in a series of strikes against those behind a recent attack in the Helmand provincial capital of Farah, US military and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander General John Nicholson said Wednesday.

Three officers were killed, including the district's well-regarded police chief, Khan Agha, and four others were wounded, said Shahpoor Ahmadzai, the spokesman for the Logar police. He could not say how many other casualties there were besides the assailants.

But Nicholson, who has sought to drive the Taliban to the negotiating table by bringing to bear increased U.S. military pressure, maintained that violence and progress can coexist. "So you see mid-level, senior-level Taliban leaders engaging with Afghans".

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in late February proposed peace talks with the Taliban, saying they could be recognized as a political party if they accepted a ceasefire and recognized the country´s 2004 constitution.

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Exploratory talks between Taliban and Afghan officials did take place in Pakistan in 2015 - but quickly fell apart after the death of the Taliban's then-leader, Mullah Omar, was announced. A provincial official who spoke to Stars and Stripes on condition of anonymity confirmed that Afghan security forces had withdrawn from the governor's compound and police headquarters.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

On the other hand, the United States insists that the Taliban must talk to the Afghan government.

Danish said the "attackers were dressed in military uniforms" - apparently seeking to confuse Afghan security forces guarding the ministry.

Both IS and the Taliban have stepped up their attacks on Kabul. The Taliban have threatened to attack voter registration centers.

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