EXPLAINER: Stakes high as Moscow opens 1st of 3 Afghan meets
Key players are attending, including U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, Afghan national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who will lead a 10-member delegation. America's main goal is an Afghanistan peace deal that guarantees its national security and that of its allies. The Afghan government is corrupt and morale is low among Afghan troops. The National Afghan Security Forces are rife with so-called ghost soldiers, who exist only on paper, while enlisted men often don't get paid. At least one member of the Senate subcommittee pointed out that all sides in the Afghan imbroglio are vulnerable.
US Embassy in Kabul warns of extremist attacks against women
(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)KABUL – The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan warned that extremists groups are planning attacks against a “variety of targets” but are taking particular aim at women. The "Taliban don't have any plans to carry out any such attacks," the group's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told The Associated Press on Friday. The IS affiliate has declared war on minority Shiite Muslims and has claimed credit for horrific attacks targeting them. Women are now members of parliament, girls have the right to education, women are in the workforce and their rights are enshrined in the constitution. The 2018 Women, Peace and Security Index rated Afghanistan as the second worst place in the world to be a woman, after Syria.
Efforts ramping up to get intra-Afghan peace talks started
Officials on both sides of Afghanistan's protracted conflict say efforts are ramping up for the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, a critical next step to a U.S. negotiated peace deal with the Taliban. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)KABUL Officials on both sides of Afghanistans protracted conflict say efforts are ramping up for a start to intra-Afghan negotiations, a critical next step to a U.S.-negotiated peace deal with the Taliban. The peace deal, which calls for the intra-Afghan negotiations, was signed by the U.S. and the Taliban in February and was seen at the time as Afghanistans best hope at peace after four decades of war. President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, who heads the High Council for National Reconciliation, the umbrella organization overseeing the government talks, says a reduction of violence or cease-fire will top their agenda. The group has reportedly completed its agenda and its 20-member negotiation team reports directly to Taliban chief Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada.