At Least 12 Dead in Taliban Blast in Afghan City

At Least 12 Dead in Taliban Blast in Afghan City

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani insists that no agreement to end the 18-year-long conflict in his country could be reached without his government's active involvement.

"These six days have been the most productive of the rounds we've had with the Talibs", Khalilzad said in Qatar.

He said talks with the Taliban had been exclusively about troop withdrawal and anti-terrorism guarantees, but the discussions have broadened to include a timeline for both intra-Afghan negotiations as well as a ceasefire.

Khalilzad said that issue had been discussed with the Taliban but added that he could not comment further.

The two-day summit, facilitated by Germany and Qatar, is an "historic opportunity for all of them to bridge trust deficit, which will help pave the way for direct peace negotiations between Afghan government and the Taliban", said Asadullah Zaeri, a spokesman of the country's High Peace Council.

"I am here as an Afghan, but I am not sure if the Taliban view themselves as Afghans before anything else", said the senior official, who spoke by telephone from Qatar but declined to be identified.

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

The United States is not participating directly in the two-day Afghan conference, which is being attended by political heavyweights, government officials and at least six women.

The Taliban have steadfastly refused to negotiate with the internationally recognised government in Kabul.

However, the ongoing talks have not prevented the Taliban from carrying out brutal attacks such as a suicide bombing against a Defence Ministry facility in Kabul on July 1 that killed 11 people and left 65 injured.

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

"President Ghani is quite comfortable with it", said Khalilzad.

In areas of Afghanistan now under Taliban control, they have shown little evidence of updating their strict interpretation of Islamic law and women continue to face violent repression.

He said Washington's "aspiration" is to have that framework in place by September 1 and ahead of the Afghan presidential election.

Talks have covered a timeframe for the withdrawal of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops from Afghanistan, verifiable anti-terror guarantees from the Taliban, intra-Afghan negotiations and an eventual cease-fire.

Last fall, Taliban fighters seized large areas of Ghazni province's Malistan and Jaghori districts in fighting that killed hundreds on both sides and displaced thousands of civilians. 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 it and it is necessary for society, because media monitors the veins of society like a physician and then recommend them a solution, but freedom of the press should respect the faith and it should be used for the structure and construction of society not for destruction of individuals and society", he told TOLOnews.

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