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Afghan President Arrives In Qatar Amid Peace Talks With Taliban

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani arrives in Qatar on October 5.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani arrives in Qatar on October 5.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has arrived in Qatar for a bilateral meeting with the leaders of the Gulf state but will not hold talks with Taliban representatives even as peace talks are under way in the country's capital city, Doha, according to officials.

Negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban that started last month are aimed at the warring sides agreeing to a reduction of violence and a possible new power-sharing agreement.

So far, there has been no progress as the two sides have become bogged down on processes and procedures, according to diplomatic sources.

The intra-Afghan talks are part of a landmark deal signed between the United States and the Taliban in February.

Under the deal, foreign forces will leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to negotiate a permanent cease-fire and a power-sharing formula with the Afghan government.

Scores of Afghan soldiers and Taliban fighters have been killed in clashes and suicide attacks that have also left dozens of civilians dead in recent weeks across the war-torn country.

Ghani and his team will be stopping first in Kuwait to attend the funeral of the late emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, before traveling to Qatar later on October 5, according to a close aide to Ghani.

"Several meetings are planned to discuss efforts for deepening Afghanistan-Qatar ties and mutual cooperation in various areas," said the official, adding that Ghani will also meet the Afghan representatives who are holding talks with the Taliban.

"But it is clear that Ghani will not meet the Taliban officials as there has been no reduction of violence and they continue to kill innocent civilians," said a senior Western diplomat overseeing the ongoing peace process.

At least eight people were killed in a car-bomb explosion on October 5 targeting the governor of the eastern Laghman Province, Rahmatullah Yarmal, officials said.

At least 30 others -- mostly civilians -- were also wounded in the attack, which took place in the provincial capital, Mehtarlam, the Afghan Interior Ministry said.

Yarmal escaped unharmed, a provincial police spokesperson said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

Over the weekend, at least 15 people, mostly civilians, were killed and more than 40 others wounded in a truck-bomb attack that targeted a government building in eastern Afghanistan, officials said.

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. Both the Taliban and the Islamic State extremist group are active in the region.

According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), at least 1,282 civilians were killed and at least 2,176 others were wounded in the first six months of the year.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AFP
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