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U.S. Envoy Shows Draft Of Taliban Deal To Afghan President

FILE: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meeting Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation in Kabul.
FILE: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meeting Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation in Kabul.

KABUL -- The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan has shown a draft of a U.S.-Taliban agreement to Afghan leaders following the latest round of talks on ending the 18-year conflict.

Presidential adviser Waheed Omer said in a tweet on September 2 that envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with President Ashraf Ghani and showed him a copy of the draft framework aimed at ending nearly two decades of fighting.

The U.S.-backed government will need to "study and assess" details of the draft deal, government spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told reporters later in the day.

Earlier, Seddiqi told AP that Khalilzad briefed Ghani late on September 1 after arriving from Qatar, where the ninth round of negotiations ended without a final agreement.

While Khalilzad was still in Qatar, at least six people were killed after the Taliban launched an attack on the northeastern Afghan city of Puli Khumri on September 1.

Local authorities told RFE/RL that the Taliban "suffered a defeat" in Puli Khumri, but they added that sporadic fighting continued in the Kar-Kar and Bandi Du areas on the city's outskirts.

The attack on Puli Khumri, the capital of Baghlan Province, came a day after the Taliban briefly stormed the northern city of Kunduz before being pushed back by government troops.

The Interior Ministry said four civilians and two members of the security forces were killed while 20 civilians and two members of the security forces were wounded in the fighting in Puli Khumri. It said three Taliban fighters had also been killed.

However, the province's public-health director, Mohibullah Habib, told the dpa news agency that at least 45 people, including 14 members of the security forces, were wounded in the clashes.

The Associated Press quoted provincial-council member Mabobullah Ghafari as saying that he had seen the bodies of at least six members of the security forces.

Ghafari said that the Taliban had occupied some checkpoints with no resistance from security forces. Taliban fighters had taken shelter in some homes, he added. Some residents were trying to flee.

Khalilzad on August 31 tweeted that he had "raised the Kunduz attack in talks today, telling the Taliban that violence like this must stop."

On August 31, Afghan officials said Taliban militants attacked Kunduz from different directions, killing at least 15 people and wounding 75.

The office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Afghan security forces had repelled the attack in some parts of the city, while other officials said that more than 30 militants had been killed.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a Twitter post called the attack "large-scale," while the police spokesman in Kunduz Province reportedly said the attack was "massive" and involved "intense" battles.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said at least 34 Taliban fighters were killed in ground and air operations in three areas of Kunduz city and that clearance operations were under way.

The ministry said on September 1 that at least 25 people, including 20 members of the Afghan security forces, had been killed and at least 85 others injured in the fighting.

It said the city was now fully cleared of Taliban presence.

The militant group has stepped its attacks in recent months to strengthen its position in the negotiations with the United States.

"We are on the verge of ending the invasion and reaching a peaceful solution for Afghanistan," a Taliban spokesman in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, said on Twitter on September 1.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on August 30 that the United States had good negotiations going on with the Taliban but had not yet reached a deal.

On August 29, Trump said that the United States will continue to maintain a force in Afghanistan even after a deal was agreed.

The Taliban has long demanded a complete pullout of all foreign forces from the country.

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are now in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist, and advise Afghan forces. Some U.S. forces carry out counterterrorism operations.​

With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters

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