Envoy to Afghanistan says US not 'cutting and running'

Posted Friday, 12 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

WASHINGTON — Amid talk of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the U.S. envoy talking to the Taliban said Thursday that America is not "cutting and running" from its longest war and that women will continue to have seats in peace talks to end nearly 18 years of fighting. Zalmay Khalilzad addressed an audience in Washington on a video link from Qatar where a two-day all-Afghan conference concluded Tuesday with a statement that offered a roadmap for the country's future. The Washington event was heavily focused on raising the voices of women who fear any peace accord with the Taliban will rollback gains they've made and return them to the days of repressive Taliban rule, "We would like to leave a very positive legacy here," said the U.S. envoy, who was born in Afghanistan. "We are not cutting and running. We're not looking for a withdrawal agreement. We're looking for a peace agreement. And we're looking for a long-term relationship and partnership with Afghanistan." The Taliban refuses to meet with the current Afghan government, but there are ongoing discussions about peace. Khalilzad has held eight rounds of U.S. talks with the Taliban and there have been all-Afghan meetings, including the last one in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where Afghans from all walks of life met to discuss grievances and find common ground about the future for their nation. A statement released at the end of the conference said that a post-war Afghanistan would have an Islamic legal system, protect women's rights "within the Islamic framework of Islamic values," and ensure equality for all ethnic groups. Alice Wells, acting assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asian Affairs, who attended the event at Georgetown University, said no current or future Afghan government should count on international donor support if it "restricts, represses or relegates Afghan women to second-class status." In his talks with the Taliban, Khalilzad said there has been progress on four fronts: getting assurances from the Taliban that Afghanistan will not become a staging ground again for militant groups like al-Qaida or the Islamic State; the withdrawal of U.S. troops, which currently number 14,000; having an all-Afghan dialogue to reach agreement on a peaceful future; and a permanent ceasefire to end the fighting. He wants the U.S. talks with the Taliban to reach fruition by Sept. 1, which would allow the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops. That would open the door to more difficult negotiations. That's where the many sides of Afghanistan's protracted conflict would sit down to hammer out the details of what an Islamic system will look like, what constitutional reforms would be made and what would become of the many local militias affiliated with the country's powerful warlords. Those talks also would have to tackle how women's rights fit into the definition of the "Islamic values." Roya Rahmani, Afghanistan's first female ambassador to the United States, expressed hope for peace, but said there's still no dialogue between the Taliban and the current Afghan government. She predicted tough periods of negotiation ahead and said whatever deal is made needed to be implemented by a "strong central government." The talks have created both optimism and anxiety, especially among women. Ghizaal Haress, assistant professor of law at the American University of Afghanistan who spoke via Skype from Kabul, said the Taliban must guarantee that the rights of women and minorities, which currently are protected in the Afghan constitution, are preserved. "If we leave it to broad interpretation or to the broad idea of women's 'Islamic values' then we're going to be in trouble as we have experienced it" under Taliban rule in the past, she said. Asila Wardack, a member of the Afghan peace council who attended the conference in Doha, said it appears the Taliban are embracing more modern views of women. Via Skype from Kabul, she said she still worries that they have not changed their hardline ideology and claimed a deeper trust between the parties was needed for the negotiations to be successful. Doha was the first time Wardack had met the Taliban negotiating team. "They approached us. They didn't shake hands," she said. Later, Wardack said two of the Taliban representatives walked up to the women at the conference and said they had heard that a group of "dangerous women" were going to be at the meeting. "They literally used the word 'dangerous women,'" Wardack said. She said one Taliban member then said: "Please don't give us a hard time."

Other articles published by Las Vegas Sun

Posted Sunday, 21 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

NEW YORK — Americans from Texas to Maine sweated out a steamy Saturday as a heat wave canceled events from festivals to horse races, chased baseball fans out of their seats and pushed New York City to order steps to avoid straining the electrical...

Posted Sunday, 21 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

NEW YORK — A business dispute took CBS off the air for millions of satellite television customers of DirecTV and AT&T U-verse on Saturday. CBS was black on satellite systems owned by AT&T in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and 14 other large...

Posted Sunday, 21 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Former Vice President Joe Biden didn’t hide his criticism of President Trump during a campaign visit to Las Vegas on Saturday, telling supporters his presidency would return the nation to normalcy. Biden briefly spoke at the start of a campaign phone...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

NEW YORK — ESPN is reminding employees of the network's policy to avoid talking about politics after radio talk show host Dan Le Batard criticized President Donald Trump and his recent racist comments and ESPN itself on the air this week. The reminder...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

RENO — UNR officials are negotiating to house 1,300 students in a tower that is part of a casino resort while two dormitories are closed to repair damage from a July 5 natural gas explosion. Officials said the talks with Eldorado Resorts call for the...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

The sixth season of the annual Play of the Day betting competition between the Sun's sports staff is now under way, effective July 1. Bankrolls start at $10,000 for each of the four participants, with the objective to increase it as much as possible over ...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

LA MONGIE, France — The first super-tough 2,000-meter (6,500-foot) climb of the Tour de France proved to be no obstacle for Julian Alaphilippe, the race leader who kept his yellow jersey while defending champion Geraint Thomas struggled up the...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker near the Persian Gulf was in response to Britain's role in impounding an Iranian supertanker first, senior figures in Iran said Saturday, prompting condemnation from the U.K. and its European allies ...

Co-stars say Huffman remorseful for role in college case Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

LOS ANGELES — Felicity Huffman's co-stars in a new Netflix movie say they found her remorseful about her role in a college admissions scandal. Actress Angela Bassett said Huffman appears ready to take whatever steps are necessary in her case. Patricia...

In border city, asylum seekers band together to bear the wait Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Mexico — A small group of asylum seekers sit under a canopy on the side of a road leading into the United States, chatting to pass the time as a blazing desert sun pushes the heat into triple digits and fumes roll in from dozens...

Polish city's first LGBT pride parade disrupted Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

WARSAW, Poland — Police in eastern Poland say they detained a number of people who verbally abused and tried to block participants in the first LGBT pride parade held in a city that hosted far-right marches in the past. Police in riot gear and border...

What consumers can do as regulators weigh compounds' risks Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

WASHINGTON — At first, Tomas Monarrez didn't notice the labels when he went shopping for pots and pans. 'Completely toxin free!" said a big green message on a line of nonstick frying pans in the cookware aisle at a store in the nation's capital. "No...

Germany marks 75th anniversary of plot to kill Hitler Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Europeans to confront populism, nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism as she paid tribute to the Nazi resistance in her own country. Speaking Saturday at a solemn ceremony marking the anniversary of...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Many folks, the man himself included, considered last season a disappointing one for William Karlsson. The 26-year-old was practically Superman in 2017-2018, when he netted 43 goals and put up 78 points in a breakout season. Fans clamored for an encore,...

Posted Saturday, 20 July 2019 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

LOS ANGELES — Manny Pacquiao has had a whole lot more to say about boxing ever since he became a politician. The 40-year-old Filipino senator who once understandably shied away from lengthy conversations in English is more comfortable in the language....