The Taliban have on Friday announced their readiness to restart peace talks with the United States, a day after President Donald Trump’s surprise visit to troops in Afghanistan.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters they were “ready to restart the talks” that collapsed after Trump had called them off earlier this year.
“Our stance is still the same. If peace talks start, it will be resumed from the stage where it had stopped,” Mujahid said.
A week after a prisoner swap between Washington and Kabul that has raised hopes for a long elusive peace deal to end the 18-year-long war, Trump’s Thanksgiving Day visit was his first to Afghanistan since becoming president.
Trump told reporters after arriving in Afghanistan on Thursday, that “the Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them,”
The president added “we say it has to be a ceasefire and they didn’t want to do a ceasefire and now they want to do a ceasefire, I believe. It will probably work out that way.”
Initially, Trump had canceled peace negotiations in September after the militant group claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul that killed 12 people, including an American soldier.
Belarus President Closes Western Borders, Puts Army On High Alert
Protesters in Belarus are still angry in their sixth week of mass protests demanding the resignation of president Alexander Lukashenko.
The president has announced, in retaliation, he is putting troops on high alert and closing the country’s borders with Poland and Lithuania. He also said the Belarusian border with Ukraine would be strengthened.
Lukashenko insists the six weeks of protests are driven by the west. He faces increasing criticism from the united states and the European Union.
Demonstrations began after the disputed august presidential election official results gave the authoritarian leader a sixth term in office–results opponents say were manipulated.
Bolivian Interim President Anez Withdraws From Election Race
Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Anez has withdrawn from next month’s presidential election, saying she’s withdrawing in the interest of the party.
Anez, a former conservative senator, took office during the power vacuum that followed former president Morales’s departure after allegations of irregularities in last year’s election. Those allegations fueled violent protests, and army pressure forced the country’s first indigenous president into exile in Mexico.
Anez says if she does not step down, Morales would possibly return to power.
She declined to name the candidate for whom she will vote.
Next month’s election is the delayed rerun of last year’s ballot. Anez’s candidacy had sparked controversy after she initially ruled herself out and pledged to guide the country to transparent new elections.
By pulling out of the race, analysts say Anez could increase chances that the election will be pushed to a second round by consolidating the anti-Arce vote.
To avoid a second round, the election winner requires at least 40 percent of valid votes in the first round and a 10-point advantage over the closest competitor.
First Case-Free Day For New Zealand In Five Weeks
New Zealand for the first time in more than five weeks has reported no new confirmed cases of the coronavirus amid efforts to stamp out an outbreak discovered in Auckland last month ending a spell of 102 days free of community transmission.
The South Pacific nation with its population of five million has reported more than 1,800 cases of COVID-19 and 25 fatalities.
The report on Friday also marked the fourth consecutive day without any cases of community transmission. All recent cases have been found among quarantined travellers returning from abroad.
Following strict measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which were widely praised, New Zealand is in its deepest recession in decades after the country’s GDP shrank by 12.2% between April and June as the lockdown and border closures hit.
Auckland lockdown began on 12 August after four cases were detected in the city of 1.5 million.
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