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Afghan President Declines Resignations Of Top Security Officials

Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan ambassador to the United States, has been appointed national security adviser.
Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan ambassador to the United States, has been appointed national security adviser.

KABUL -- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has rejected the resignations of three senior security officials in his cabinet, after the country’s national security adviser stepped down and was replaced, his office says.

An August 26 statementsaid Ghani asked Defense Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami, Interior Minister Wais Barmak, and Masoom Stanekzai, head of the National Directorate of Security, to remain at their posts and "work toward the betterment of the security situation."

On August 25, a spokesman for Ghani confirmed to RFE/RL that the president had accepted the resignation of Mohammad Hanif Atmar, his national security adviser, and replaced him with Hamdullah Mohib, who previously served as the ambassador to the United States.

Hours thereafter, media reports said Bahrami, Barmak, and Stanekzai had also resigned.

The officials cited policy differences with the government amid a deteriorating security situation as the main reason for their decisions, according to Reuters.

TOLOnews published a copyof what it said was security adviser Atmar's resignation letter explaining that he was resigning due to "serious differences over policies and approaches at the top level of government."

The authenticity of the letter could not immediately be confirmed.

Atmar had previously served as the country's interior minister under former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

He has served as a close aide to Ghani since 2014.

The developments come amid a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, which in recent weeks has been hit by several deadly attacks carried out by suspected Taliban or Islamic State (IS) militants, including a rocket attack near the presidential palace in Kabul.

The Kabul government has struggled to fend off a resurgent Taliban, as well as IS and Al-Qaeda militants, nearly two decades after a U.S.-led coalition drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in 2001.

Taliban leaders have so far ignored an offer by the Afghan government of direct peace negotiations, calling instead for direct talks with the United States. IS and Al-Qaeda militants were not included in the government offers of talks or cease-fires.

Russia says it has invited the Taliban and 12 countries, including Afghanistan and the United States, to talks next month in Moscow.

The United States and Afghanistan both said they would not attend the talks, with Kabul asserting it prefers instead to hold direct talks with the Taliban.

With reporting by AP, TOLOnews, The New York Times, and dpa

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