Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Taliban Is Actually Entering Peace Talks — In Moscow
The Taliban has accepted an invitation from the Russian government to join multilateral talks next month covering the future of Afghanistan that the U.S. is not likely to take part in, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
The Sep. 4 meeting in Moscow, which is also expected to host representatives from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India, and China, will be "in line with efforts to launch the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan," said Zamir Kabulov, Russia's presidential representative to Afghanistan, in an interview with Interfax.
A spokesman for the Taliban did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Russia has offered diplomatic and some military support to the Afghan government over the past several years. It has also been accused by the US of supplying arms to the Taliban such as machine guns, small arms, and night vision goggles — a charge that Moscow strenuously denies.
The U.S. is among the 12 countries that have been invited to the upcoming talks. The State Department said it would not be attending the meeting (The U.S. declined to attend a similar meeting last year which did not include Taliban representatives).
"As a matter of principle, we support Afghan-owned and –led initiatives to advance a peace settlement in Afghanistan," a State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose. "Based on the previous meetings in the 'Moscow Format,' we believe this initiative is unlikely to yield any progress toward that end."
Still, the Afghan government welcomed the Moscow meeting as "good news" that would allow the Taliban and the Afghan government to meet face-to-face to "find a solution to the problem of Afghanistan," Abdul Kayum Kuchai, Afghanistan's Ambassador to Russia, told Interfax.
In July, Senior State Department officials held face-to-face talks with the Taliban in Qatar without representatives of the Afghan government present.
News of negotiation efforts comes days after the U.S. and Afghan forces repulsed a major Taliban offensive in Ghazni and elsewhere over the past week, which resulted in the deaths of more than 400 Afghan soldiers and police officers, according to The New York Times. And despite an apparent shift in strategy implemented under President Donald Trump that is now a year old, the most recent Pentagon Inspector General's report shows that little has changed on the ground.
Search efforts are underway to find a West Point cadet, who has gone missing along with his M4 carbine, the U.S. Military Academy announced on Sunday.
"There is no indication the Cadet poses a threat to the public, but he may be a danger to himself," a West Point news release says.
Academy officials do not believe the missing cadet has access to any magazines or ammunition, according to the news release, which did not identify the cadet, who is a member of the Class of 2021.
Three soldiers were killed and another three injured when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over during a training exercise at Fort Stewart in Georgia on Sunday morning, Army officials announced.
KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday in a bid to bring talks with the Taliban back on track after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off negotiations last month seeking to end the United States' longest war.
Esper's trip to Kabul comes amid questions about the United States' commitments to allies after a sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and Trump's long-time desire to get out of foreign engagements.
Mark Esper is the third person after James Mattis and Patrick Shanahan to helm the Pentagon since Donald Trump became president, and he's apparently not making much of an impression on the commander-and-chief.
On Sunday, Trump sent a very real tweet on "Secretary Esperanto," which is either a reference to a constructed international language developed more than 130 years ago and only spoken on the PA system in Gattaca or an egregious instance of autocorrect.
This rifle could be a dark horse candidate for the Army's next-generation squad weapon — and you can snag one next year
The Army says it's settled on three defense contractors to battle it out to become the service's M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon replacements, but at least one other company is hoping that a bit of consumer approval could help upset the competition.