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August 2018
3:17 PM IST
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UAE offers Rs 700 crore for Kerala        When nature let us go there, I plan to help people rebuild their homes, says Rohini        Bodies found as flood recedes        SC judges to contribute to Kerala flood relief fund        28 more services from Trivandrum International airport        Rahul Gandhi Demands More Fund, Kiren Rijiju Says 'no Politics'        West Bengal govt to give Rs 10 crore for Kerala flood relief: Mamata Banerjee        6.9 magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia's Lombok        12 of Imran’s 21 cabinet members held key posts during Musharraf regime        India bowl out England for 161 at tea        Kerala flood: Papa CJ expressed his willingness to perform at fund-raiser programmes        Declare Kerala floods a national disaster: Rahul Gandhi asks PM        PM announces an interim relief of Rs 500 Cr        PM's aerial survey called off        Centre to Supreme Court: ‘Decision taken to reduce Mullaperiyar water level’        Swami Agnivesh assaulted on way to pay homage to Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi        Imran Khan Elected New Pakistan PM, Seen In Tears After Vote        'He's innocent': US threatens more sanctions on Turkey if pastor not freed        Kerala floods: Sanju Samson contributes Rs 15 lakhs towards relief fund        Pregnant woman airlifted by Navy gave birth to baby boy        
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International News
Afghan officials and Taliban talk despite wave of violence
 
Kabul, Feb 13 (AP) Afghan officials are carrying out at least two tracks of talks with the Taliban even after a month of brutal bombings and attacks by the militants that killed nearly 200 and despite President Donald Trump's angry rejection of any negotiations for now.

The persistence of the back-channel contacts reflects the desire to keep a door open for reconciliation even as the Afghan government and its top ally, the United States, fumble for a strategy to end the protracted war, now entering its 17th year.

Rifts within the Afghan government have grown vast, even as the Taliban gain territory and wage increasingly ruthless tactics.

The United States has unleashed heavier air power against the Taliban and other militants. After the string of Taliban attacks in recent weeks, Trump angrily condemned the group.

"We don't want to talk with the Taliban," he said. "There may be a time but it's going to be a long time."

Still, Afghanistan's intelligence chief Masoom Stanikzai and its National Security Chief Mohammed Hanif Atmar continue to each talk separately to the Taliban, say those familiar with the backdoor negotiations.

The problem, however, is that neither is talking to the other or to the High Peace Council, which was created by the government to talk peace with the Taliban, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the contacts.

Hakim Mujahid, a member of the High Peace Council, confirmed that Stanikzai still has regular contacts with the Taliban's point man for peace talks, Mullah Abbas Stanikzai. The two are not related.

Mujahid, who was the Taliban's representative to the United Nations during the group's five-year rule of Afghanistan that ended in 2001, said the group would not respond well to Trump's tough talk.

"The language of power, the language of threat will not convince Afghans to surrender," he said.

Andrew Wilder, vice president of the Asia Programme at the US Institute of Peace, said multiple players in Kabul have contacts with the Taliban.

"But this isn't being done in a coordinated manner to achieve clearly defined objectives," he said.

Later this month, representatives from dozens of countries are to meet for a second time in the Afghan capital for the so-called Kabul process aimed at forging a path to peace. The first round was held in June.

Still, the latest spate of violence has limited options for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is also fending off a mini-revolt within his own government, feuding with the vice president as well as a powerful northern governor.

Meanwhile, the former No 2 of the Taliban, Aga Jan Motasim, who still counts the radical religious movement's leader Mullah Habaitullah Akhunzada among his friends, warned that Trump's strategy of using the military to force a more compliant Taliban to the negotiation table could lead to more suicide attacks.


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KERALA NEWS
UAE offers Rs 700 crore for Kerala
 New Delhi: Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that the United Arab Emirates has offered Rs 700 crore to
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Bodies found as flood recedes
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NATIONAL NEWS
SC judges to contribute to Kerala flood relief fund
 New Delhi: The judges of the Supreme Court will contribute to the Kerala flood relief fund, Chief Ju
Rahul Gandhi Demands More Fund, Kiren Rijiju Says 'no Politics'
West Bengal govt to give Rs 10 crore for Kerala flood relief: Mamata Banerjee
Swami Agnivesh assaulted on way to pay homage to Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi
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