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‘Very good’ White House discussions on Afghan peace deal: Trump

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The White House signaled progress Friday in preparations for a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, saying that discussions between President Donald Trump and top advisors went “very well.”

Trump met at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course with national security advisors including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, the White House said.

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Also present were national security point man John Bolton and the US special envoy for the talks with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad.

“Discussions centered around our ongoing negotiations and eventual peace and reconciliation agreement with the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan. The meeting went very well, and negotiations are proceeding,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

Trump added on Twitter: “Just completed a very good meeting on Afghanistan. Many on the opposite side of this 19 year war, and us, are looking to make a deal — if possible!”

Expectations are rising for a deal in which the United States would start withdrawing its 14,000 soldiers from Afghanistan after a two-decade war that has turned into a stalemate.

Washington is keen to end its involvement in Afghanistan, where it has spent more than $1 trillion and Trump has said since the start of his presidency that he wants troops out.

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In return, the Taliban would commit to various security guarantees, including that the Islamist hardliners who long harbored Al-Qaeda would not allow Afghanistan to become a jihadist safe haven.

A US-Taliban agreement would not in itself bring Afghanistan’s war to an end, as the insurgents would still need to make a deal with the US-backed Kabul government.

“In continued close cooperation with the government of Afghanistan, we remain committed to achieving a comprehensive peace agreement,” Pompeo said in a statement.

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This would include “a reduction in violence and a ceasefire, ensuring that Afghan soil is never again used to threaten the United States or her allies, and bringing Afghans together to work towards peace.”

Even as the United States and Taliban claim progress in talks, little has changed for Afghans on the ground.

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A UN tally found last year was the deadliest on record, with at least 3,804 civilian deaths caused by the war — including 927 children.

And according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 217,000 people had to flee their homes because of fighting during the first seven months of 2019, prompting a huge need for humanitarian aid across the war-torn nation.


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Trump is now feuding with Iran’s Supreme Leader on Twitter: ‘Make Iran Great Again!’

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President Donald Trump is now replying directly to Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Twitter.

I Friday, Khamenei tweeted a screenshot of a Trump tweet, with a message of his own.

"The villainous US govt repeatedly says that they are standing by the Iranian ppl. They lie. If you are standing by the Iranian ppl, it is only to stab them in the heart with your venomous daggers," Khamenei posted.

"Of course, you have so far failed to do so, & you will certainly continue to fail," he added.

https://twitter.com/khamenei_ir/status/1218141834842660864

Trump retweeted the message, adding his own argument.

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‘Contempt of Congress is illegal’ declared one of Trump’s newest attorneys – just days before the House voted to impeach

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One of the lesser-known names on the new list of lawyers President Donald Trump approved to defend him during the Senate impeachment trial delivered a damning remark last month – damning for President Trump, that is.

"Contempt of Congress is illegal," said Robert Ray, who served as the final Whitewater independent counsel after Ken Starr.

The Washington Post's Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent report Ray made the stunning remark – one of the Articles of Impeachment essentially is contempt of Congress, or technically, obstruction of Congress – to The Daily Signal, a right wing website run by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

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Trump raises tensions in Virginia as local authorities fear Richmond gun rally could be the next Charlottesville

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President Donald Trump appeared to pour gasoline on a political fire in Virginia only days before a far-right protest that many are worried could result in violence.

Gun activists have been threatening civil war if the commonwealth's legislature enacts new gun safety legislation.

Right-wing militias sought to organize an armed action at the capitol, but Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency to prevent firearms on the grounds.

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