Published: Wed, July 03, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Fresh bid set to bring Afghans to table for peace deal

Fresh bid set to bring Afghans to table for peace deal

A vehicle bomb targeted the area of Puli Mahmood Khan, not far from a logistic supply compound belonging to the Afghan Defence Ministry.

There has been an evident surge in deadly armed clashes between the Taliban and the Afghan security forces amid ongoing peace talks between the United States and militants in Doha, Qatar.

US negotiators are also supposed to push for intra-Afghan negotiations and a ceasefire.

"Clashes ended with the death of all five attackers", said interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi, adding that more than 210 people had been rescued during the operation.

Less than a week ago, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo paid a short visit to Kabul and said the Trump administration was hopeful that a peace deal with the Taliban was achievable by Sept 1.

A security guard at Shamshad TV, a Pashto-language media organisation, was killed and several employees were hurt in their office near the blast site, said director Abid Ehsas.

Sohail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban political office in Doha, said the group's key concern was to make sure a timeline for a foreign troop pullout is announced.

"I've wanted to pull them out".

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"Regarding terrorism, we've made real progress and are almost ready to conclude a draft text outlining the Taliban's commitments to join fellow Afghans in ensuring Afghan soil never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists", Pompeo said.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Monday's attack showed a "reckless disregard" for civilian lives. Last week it hosted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for the first time as the two countries sought to reset their troubled relationship.

In a social media post, he said talks would instead be held with the "Afghan sides" after a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops is agreed upon during the presence of global observers. He also said regardless of an announcement the Taliban were not prepared for talks with Afghan government members in their official capacity.

A peace summit on the years-long war in Afghanistan has been agreed for July 7 and 8, but no official representation from the government in Kabul will be present.

Two sources at the peace talks said direct negotiations between the warring sides was unlikely to go beyond Monday, but there was no official statement about the suspension of the ongoing talks.

Mr Khalilzad, who is holding a seventh round of direct talks with the Taliban in Doha, already held a battery of meetings with the Afghan president in Kabul last month. The insurgents are portraying it as proposed negotiations with politicians not representing the Kabul administration while officials insist this initiative is led and owned by Afghan government in close collaboration with the global partners.

The fresh round of violence is the latest escalation in deadly clashes between Taliban fighters and Afghan forces, that both sides say have killed almost 300 fighters.

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