Published: Tue, July 09, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Afghan Officials: Schoolchildren Killed, Hurt in Ghazni Blast - Afghanistan

Afghan Officials: Schoolchildren Killed, Hurt in Ghazni Blast - Afghanistan

The attack came hours before Taleban officials were due to begin meeting a group of Afghan delegates in Qatar as part of diplomatic efforts to end years of violence and build trust between Afghan civilians and the militant group.

Qatar believes that the conflict in Afghanistan can only be solved through a peaceful resolution, not a military one, said Dr Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani, foreign minister's Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution.

"We might have disagreements with the Taliban on how to interpret those rights, but I don't think they will be strong enough to lead to fighting", he said.

"The differences is nearly so narrow. we are quite frankly surprised how serious both sides are and they are so committed to putting an end to this conflict".

Nadir Naim, an Afghan delegate and deputy chairman of the country's High Peace Council, was hopeful that a ceasefire and deal were just around the corner.

"The meeting is a good start, we have to keep the dialogue going", she said, adding that the Taliban's "mindset" has changed and are "more willing to discuss women rights".

In a tweet on Saturday, U.S envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been holding peace talks with the Taliban to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan since last year, said the latest round of discussions were the "most productive session" to date.

Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban's office in Qatar, said they were pleased with the U.S. discussions so far.

USA negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad has met seven times with the Taliban and, in a potentially major first step, the insurgents have agreed to meet a wide range of Afghans starting Sunday in Qatar.

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"The Taliban should know that they can not gain leverage by the killing of civilians", Ghani said in a statement.

Officials have not confirmed any deaths among government intelligence employees.

The Taleban, who have repeatedly refused to negotiate with the Western-backed government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, agreed to join the intra-Afghan summit on the condition that those there would attend in a personal capacity.

Ghani's administration, which the Taliban consider a puppet regime, has also been excluded from the direct US-Taliban talks.

An agreement with the Taliban is expected to have two main points - a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and a commitment by the militants not to provide a base for terrorists, the main reason for the United States invasion 18 years ago.

The Taliban s relationship with Al-Qaeda was the main reason for the U.S. invasion almost 18 years ago.

But the thorny issues of women's rights, power-sharing with the Taliban, the role of regional powers including Pakistan and India, and the fate of Ghani's administration remain unresolved.

Before the begging of peace talks, Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman of the Taliban told media that all participants of the dialogue would share their views on how peace could be achieved in Afghanistan but the Taliban's stance would be expressed in the Intra-Afghan summit by the Taliban representative Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai.

A deadly suicide vehicle bomb for which the Taliban claimed responsibility struck eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni provincial capital the Ghazni city on Sunday, leaving six dead and injuring more than 180 others, mostly civilians including school students, provincial governor's spokesman Aref Nuri confirmed.

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