Afghan govt seeks Pakistan’s help to extend truce with Taliban

Afghanistan’s Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak, left, and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security Director (NDS) Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai attend a joint news conference in Kabul. (Reuters)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Afghan govt seeks Pakistan’s help to extend truce with Taliban

  • The Taliban’s leader offered to hold direct talks with the US to resolve the conflict through dialogue.
  • Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of sponsoring and sheltering the Taliban and other militant groups, which Islamabad denies.

KABUL: The Afghan government is seeking Pakistan’s cooperation in extending a temporary truce that it recently announced with the Taliban, hoping that the move will pave the way for direct talks with the group, Afghan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak said on Thursday.

The request was made on Tuesday during the visit of a Pakistani military delegation that coincided with Kabul’s declaration of the truce, Barmak added.

“There is hope that with the talks that we had with the Pakistani delegation, the truce will prolong,” he said.

“We asked them to cooperate in the extension of the truce between us and the Taliban and other groups, and provide the means for talks.”

Barmak did not comment on Pakistan’s response to the request. Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of sponsoring and sheltering the Taliban and other militant groups, which Islamabad denies.

Kabul hopes that the Taliban will abide by its pledge of a three-day truce, which will start on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr and came in response to the government’s truce, Barmak said.

There were a number of Taliban attacks against government forces in various parts of the country in the past three days since Kabul announced its unilateral truce, he added.

While conceding government losses in those attacks, he denied reports that the toll stood at nearly 100.

Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, who was ambassador to Pakistan under the Taliban government, said the truce is the start of a “big process,” and expressed hope that it will be extended.

In an Eid message, Taliban leader Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzada said the group’s fight is to end the US military presence in Afghanistan.

The only way to save the country is for the US military and “other occupying forces” to leave Afghanistan so an independent, Islamic government “can take root,” he added.

The Taliban has “kept the doors of understanding and negotiations open,” he said, urging the US to hold direct talks with the group.

If the US believes in a peaceful resolution, it must resolve the crisis through dialogue, Akhundzada added.


At least eight dead in surge of white-water creek in Italy

Updated 24 min 41 sec ago
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At least eight dead in surge of white-water creek in Italy

  • Five people lost their lives after a mountain stream suddenly flooded in Italy’s Calabria region
  • The five dead were part of a group of around 15 people walking along Raganello stream in Pollino national park, 11 of whom were rescued

ROME: At least eight people were killed in southern Italy on Monday when the level of a raging white-water creek in a deep mountain gorge swelled suddenly after heavy rainfall, officials said.
The national civil protection department said 18 people were rescued and six of those were injured in the flash rush of water in the Calabria region.
It was not clear how many people were missing because not all had entered the gorge with official guides and registered.
In some places the Raganello creek, part of the Pollino National Park, is at the bottom of a narrow, one-kilometer-deep gorge in the mountain. Rescue teams used ropes to descend the sides of the mountain to reach the site.
Images on national television showed helmeted mountain rescue squads rushing from the nearest town, Civita, to reach the gorge, a popular tourist attraction in summer.
The most seriously injured were taken by helicopter to hospitals in the provincial capital, Cosenza.
All of the victims were believed to be Italian tourists.