Afghan delegation to attend peace talks in Russia — official

A US government watchdog last week said that Kabul’s control of Afghanistan had slipped in recent months. (AFP)
Updated 05 November 2018
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Afghan delegation to attend peace talks in Russia — official

  • ‘We welcome any peace effort that is Afghan-led’
  • Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the militant group was still mulling whether to go

KABUL: An Afghan delegation will attend international talks on the war-torn country in Russia this month, officials said Monday, as the Taliban consider whether to participate.
Moscow announced Saturday it would host the event on November 9 in the Russian capital — even as the United States engages the Taliban in nascent bilateral talks to end the 17-year conflict.
Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, a government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants, would send four representatives to the meeting, spokesman Sayed Ihsan Taheri said.
The Afghan foreign ministry, however, remained evasive about whether it would dispatch a delegation to the conference, which will focus on kickstarting peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.
“We are still negotiating with the Russian officials,” spokesman Sebaghtullah Ahmadi said.
“We welcome any peace effort that is Afghan-led.”
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the militant group was still mulling whether to go.
Moscow has also invited representatives from the United States as well as India, Iran, China, Pakistan and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
Pakistan, which has long been accused of providing support to the Afghan Taliban, would “definitely” attend, foreign ministry spokesman Muhammad Faisal said.
The US embassy in Kabul did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Moscow meeting was initially scheduled to take place in September, but was postponed after Kabul insisted that the process should be Afghan-led.
The meeting comes at a sensitive time.
Newly appointed US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been trying to convince the Taliban to agree to negotiate an end to the war and there are fears the Russian multi-lateral meeting could derail those efforts.
A US government watchdog last week said Kabul’s control of Afghanistan had slipped in recent months as local security forces suffered record casualties while making minimal or no progress against the Taliban.


Merkel suffers new trembling spell on eve of G20

Updated 27 June 2019
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Merkel suffers new trembling spell on eve of G20

  • The shaking went on for two minutes, according to a DPA photographer who was present at the event
  • Her previous bout of shaking last Tuesday had been blamed on dehydration on a hot summer’s day

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday suffered another episode of uncontrolled trembling, a week after a similar incident that sparked questions about her health.
The latest lapse came hours before Merkel was due to board a plane for the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
The German leader began to tremble as she stood next to President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was giving a speech at a ceremony to formally appoint a new justice minister.
The shaking went on for two minutes, according to a DPA photographer who was present at the event.
Merkel folded her arms visibly in a bid to stop the trembling.
She only finally brought it under control once she was able to take a few steps.
She was offered a glass of water but turned it down.
Her previous bout of shaking last Tuesday had been blamed on dehydration on a hot summer’s day.
Despite the latest incident, a German government spokesman said Merkel would not be canceling any appointments on Thursday and Friday.
“The chancellor is well,” he said, adding that she will be flying as planned to Osaka for the G20 summit.
Merkel, frequently called the European Union’s most influential leader and the most powerful woman in the world, turns 65 next month.
She has said she will leave politics at the end of her term, in 2021.
There were brief concerns about her health in 2014 when she was taken ill during a television interview. The broadcast was briefly interrupted when she experienced a drop in blood pressure.
Her spokesman Steffen Seibert explained at the time the leader did not feel well for a moment, then ate and drank something and continued the interview.