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Pompeo meets with Taliban in Qatar after mortar barrage kills at least 8 in Kabul

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with a Taliban delegation hours after mortar shells slammed into other portions of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, on Saturday, killing a minimum of 8 other folks.

Fired from two automobiles, the 23 shells additionally wounded a minimum of 31 others, Internal Ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian informed press.

The mortar barrage got here as Pompeo was once making ready to satisfy with representatives of the Afghan executive and the Taliban, who’re keeping talks within the Arabian Gulf country of Qatar, regardless that development has been gradual.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid informed NBC Information that the crowd weren’t liable for the early-morning assault, which was once later claimed through the ISIS associate, in line with SITE Intelligence Workforce, which tracks violent extremist organizations.

The militant crew has performed equivalent assaults up to now and claimed accountability for contemporary attacks in Kabul, together with two devastating assaults on tutorial establishments that killed greater than 50 other folks, a lot of them scholars.

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Saturday’s assault centered the upmarket Wazir Akbar Khan space of Kabul, which homes diplomatic missions. A minimum of one rocket landed within the Iranian Embassy compound, the embassy stated in a tweet on Saturday along a photograph of shrapnel however added no team of workers had been injured.

Abdullah Abdullah, the Afghan executive’s leader negotiator in peace talks, condemned Saturday’s assault in a tweet calling it a “cowardly” act. Including, “terrorizing and concentrated on the civilians should prevent.”

Participants of Taliban’s peace negotiation crew met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo within the Qatari capital Doha, on Saturday. Patrick Semansky / Pool by the use of AFP – Getty Pictures

Pompeo was once additionally anticipated to press for a discount in violence in his conferences with each Taliban and Afghan executive negotiating groups, all the way through his daylong prevent in Qatar’s capital Doha.

The U.S. signed an settlement with the Taliban in February to advertise a negotiated finish to the protracted battle. Afghan executive and Taliban negotiators were assembly in Doha frequently to check out to dealer a peace deal however have not begun to yield any primary step forward.

In the meantime, violence in Afghanistan has spiked in contemporary months with more and more horrific assaults — many killing civilians.

There were requires a cease-fire if peace talks in Doha are to proceed. However the Taliban were steadfast of their refusal, challenging that any cease-fire be a part of the broader negotiations.

Pompeo’s commute comes days after Performing Protection Secretary Christopher Miller stated on Tuesday that the U.S. will cut back troop ranges in Iraq and Afghanistan through mid-January.

Miller informed journalists on the Pentagon that the verdict fulfills President Donald Trump’s pledge to convey forces house from The usa’s lengthy wars — at the same time as some Republicans and U.S. allies warn of the risks of chickening out sooner than stipulations are proper.

The plan will boost up troop withdrawals in Trump’s ultimate days in place of job, in spite of arguments from senior army officers in desire of a slower, extra methodical pullout to keep hard-fought positive factors.

Miller stated the U.S. will cut back troop ranges in Afghanistan from greater than four,500 to two,500, and in Iraq from about three,000 to two,500. Including that the U.S. stays in a position to reply if stipulations in Afghanistan or Iraq become worse.

The U.S. resolution has already won a groovy reception from some Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, and a relatively blunt critique from NATO Secretary-Common Jens Stoltenberg.

“We’ve been in Afghanistan for just about 20 years, and no NATO best friend desires to stick any further than vital. However on the identical time, the fee for leaving too quickly or in an uncoordinated manner might be very prime,” Stoltenberg stated in a observation on Tuesday.

The USA has been in Afghanistan for 19 years, making it The usa’s longest warfare.

The Related Press contributed to this file.

Mushtaq Yusufzai contributed.

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