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The Taliban sent a team to Russia after US peace talks collapsed
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The Taliban have sent a delegation to Russia to discuss prospects for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan following the collapse of talks with the United States this month, officials from the insurgent group said.
The move, days after President Donald Trump canceled a planned meeting with Taliban leaders at his Camp David retreat, came as the movement looks to bolster regional support, with visits also planned for China, Iran and Central Asian states.
"The purpose of these visits is to inform leaders of these countries about the peace talks and President Trump's decision to call off the peace process at a time when both sides had resolved all outstanding issues and were about to sign a peace agreement," said a senior Taliban leader in Qatar.
Russia, which has hosted meetings between the Taliban and Afghan political and civil society representatives, said this week it hoped that the process could be put back on track and urged both sides to resume talks.
"We are convinced that the complete end to foreign military presence is an inalienable condition of durable peace in Afghanistan," Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
However, it is unclear whether the talks can be resumed.
The Taliban leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the purpose of the visits was not to try to revive negotiations with the United States but to assess regional support for forcing it to leave Afghanistan.
U.S. and Taliban officials held months of talks in the Qatari capital of Doha and agreed a draft accord that would have seen some 5,000 U.S. troops withdrawn from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban.
However, the deal, intended as a preliminary step to a wider peace agreement, faced heavy criticism from the Afghan government, which was shut out of the talks. Many former senior U.S. officials who had worked in the region also warned a hasty withdrawal risked destabilizing the country and even plunging it back into a new round of civil war.
The draft accord did not include a ceasefire agreement and with violence continuing, Trump announced the cancellation of the Camp David meeting via Twitter after a suicide bomb attack in Kabul killed at least 12 people including a U.S. soldier.
He subsequently described the talks as dead and said U.S. forces would step up operations against the Taliban, who control more territory than at any time since they were ousted from power by a U.S.-led campaign in 2001.
The Navy relieved a decorated explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer on Thursday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, the Navy announced on Friday.
Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who led a Marine task force to Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, said the Washington Post's recent reporting about the U.S. government's pattern of lies about the war over the last two decades is not "revelatory."
Mattis, who was interviewed by the Washington Post's David Ignatius on Friday, also said he does not believe the U.S. government made any efforts to hide the true situation in Afghanistan and he argued the war has not been in vain.
Here are 10 key quotes from Mattis regarding the Washington Post's reporting in the 'Afghanistan Papers.'
Get ready for some gun-fu: Both 'John Wick 4' and 'Matrix 4' will be premiering on the same day in 2021
The Taliban may not have breached the walls of Bagram, but they damaged the hell out of its main passenger terminal
Blasts from Taliban car bombs outside of Bagram Airfield on Wednesday caused extensive damage to the base's passenger terminal, new pictures released by the 45th Expeditionary Wing show.
The pictures, which are part of a photo essay called "Bagram stands fast," were posted on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service's website on Thursday.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Shortly after seven sailors died aboard USS Fitzgerald when she collided with a merchant ship off Japan in 2017, I wrote that the Fitzgerald's watch team could have been mine. My ship had once had a close call with me on watch, and I had attempted to explain how such a thing could happen. "Operating ships at sea is hard, and dangerous. Stand enough watches, and you'll have close calls," I wrote at the time. "When the Fitzgerald's investigation comes out, I, for one, will likely be forgiving."
So, am I forgiving? Yes — for some.