A general view of the capital city of Kabul, as new talks between the US and the Taliban go on. AFP
Washington is hoping for a breakthrough as talks between the US and the Taliban resumed in Doha on Saturday in a bid to end 18 years of war in Afghanistan.
The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants to withdraw thousands of troops but only in return for the insurgent group renouncing Al-Qaeda and curbing attacks.
Washington is hoping to strike a peace deal with the Taliban by September 1 -- ahead of Afghan polls due the same month, and US presidential polls due in 2020.
US President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that "we've made a lot of progress. We're talking".
A coalition led by Washington ousted the Taliban accusing it of harbouring Al-Qaeda jihadists who claimed the September 11, 2001 attacks against the US that killed almost 3,000 people.
“We've made a lot of progress. We're talking.
"We are pursuing a peace agreement not a withdrawal agreement, a peace agreement that enables withdrawal," US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted on Friday as he arrived in Doha after talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad.
"Our presence in Afghanistan is conditions-based, and any withdrawal will be conditions-based."
In another sign of progress, the Afghan government has formed a negotiating team for separate peace talks with the Taliban, that diplomats hope could be held as early as later this month.
The “Washington Post” reported on Thursday that an initial deal to end the war would see the US force in Afghanistan reduced to as low as 8,000 from the current level of around 14,000.
In exchange, the Taliban would abide by a ceasefire and renounce Al-Qaeda, the Post reported, citing US officials.
The proposed agreement would also require the Taliban to broker a separate peace deal with the Afghan government, with which it has so far refused to speak, Fox News reported.
However, an Afghan official hinted last week that the government of President Ashraf Ghani was preparing for direct talks with the Taliban, the details of which have yet to be announced.
Council on Foreign Relations counter-terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman said that he doubted the Taliban would ever renounce Al-Qaeda — potentially hindering any deal.
Observers believe that the nearly 18-year conflict will be the major focus of talks between Khan and President Donald Trump when they meet on July 22.
The death toll in the explosion late on Friday that also destroyed 14 houses is expected to rise because several of the injured were critical, said Rafiq Sherzai, a spokesman for the provincial hospital.
President Donald Trump urged the Afghan people to embrace the chance for a new future, saying the deal held out the possibility of ending the 18-year conflict.
President Donald Trump halted talks with the group, aimed at striking a deal for US and other foreign troops to withdraw in exchange for Taliban security guarantees, after it carried out a bomb attack in Kabul that killed 12 people, including a US soldier.
A group of students of determination took part in the ‘healthy cooking’ competition organized by the Rashid Center for People of Determination in the presence of artist Shatha Hassoun, Emirati Chef Somaya Obaid and Chef Abdul Rahman Al Shugairi.
The Dubai Public Prosecution referred a 39-year-old African sales representative to the Criminal Court on charges of bringing and possessing one and a half kilogrammes of cocaine for promotion.
The UAE Ministry of Education (MoE), represented by the Certificate Equivalency Department, has notified the Customer Happiness Centres nationwide to stop attesting certificates issued by four universities operating within the UAE, including: Al Hosn University, University of Modern Sciences, Maktoum Bin Hamdan Dental University College, and Al Jazeera University.
In his weekly tweet with the hashtag “#FlashesofLeadership,” the Dubai Ruler said, “If the needy comes to you, help him... And if the oppressed comes to you, support him... And if the owner of the idea comes to you, support him also… And if the world comes to you, listen to the world...”