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Only ‘direct’ talks can bring peace: Afghan official

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WASHINGTON — An Afghan official said Thursday his government hopes peace talks can achieve “a political solution” with the Taliban movement, but stressed that any agreement must come from “direct” negotiations the two parties.

“Ultimately direct peace negotiations will have to be between Afghan partners,” said Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai in a videoconference from Kabul with the Pentagon.

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“There’s no alternative to that. We welcome the support and assistance of countries in the region and in the international community.”

The Taliban, ousted from power by a US-led invasion in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, announced earlier this month that it planned to set up a political office in Qatar ahead of possible talks with the United States.

The Afghan government gave its blessing to that move as all sides eye a political solution to the conflict, but Kabul is reportedly wary of being sidelined in talks between the insurgents and Washington.

Mosazai said officials are “committed to a political solution in Afghanistan and that’s why President (Hamid) Karzai has expressed the Afghan government’s support of an address for the Taliban.”

He added that the government is “fully committed” to the process but that “we want to make sure that any peace process that happens in Afghanistan is one that basically includes the preservation of our historic achievements over the past 10 years,” including a constitution and human rights.

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He added that his government looks forward to a visit by US envoy Marc Grossman.

Talks with the Taliban broke down following the assassination of Kabul’s chief peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani in September.

Karzai accused Pakistan of responsibility for the murder and last month the Afghan president said Islamabad was sabotaging all negotiations with the Taliban.

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Mosazai said his government hopes talks can resume “but we want to make sure that the Afghan peace process is led and is owned by the Afghan government, because we want to make sure that the outcome of that peace process is a dignified, an inclusive, an endurable peace.”

US officials have cited support for a Taliban political office in Qatar, but said nothing has been concluded yet.

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The United States wants to withdraw most forces from Afghanistan in 2014, ending more than a decade of war.


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Nancy Pelosi roasts Mark Zuckerberg for ‘pandering’ to Trump and his ‘silly’ tantrums

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday mocked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for his efforts to appease President Donald Trump's criticisms of major social media companies.

During a press conference, Pelosi said that Zuckerberg "just panders" to Trump in an effort to preserve his business model, which she described as a platform for people to "misrepresent facts" without consequence.

"They knew during the 2016 elections that the Russians were engaged in foul play," she said. "They knew, because they saw where the money was coming from!"

She then turned her attention to Trump's new executive order that will reportedly open up tech platforms to more lawsuits.

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Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims (D) lashed out at Republican lawmakers who remained silent after testing positive for COVID-19.

Democrats this week accused Republicans of withholding information after Rep. Andrew Lewis (R) tested positive for the virus.

"It's been a week, perhaps longer, that House Republican leadership knew that at least one of their members had tested positive for COVID-19," Sims explained in a Facebook post. "But they didn't go on quarantine until they were done serving alongside us, especially those of us that serve on the State Government Committee."

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‘Art of the Deal’ ghostwriter: ‘Psychopath’ Trump is ‘driven by an insatiable narcissistic hunger’ and an obsessive ‘need to dominate’

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President Ronald Reagan, in the 1980s, famously asserted that someone who agreed with him 70% of the time was a 70% ally and not a 30% enemy. But President Donald Trump, on the other hand, is furious if someone disagrees with him even on rare occasions. Author Tony Schwartz, who co-wrote or ghost-wrote Trump’s famous 1987 book, “The Art of the Deal,” analyzes Trump’s mentality in a May 28 article for Medium — stressing that the president is motivated, above all else, by a “need to dominate.”

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