India says it prefers direct talks between Afghanistan government and the Taliban

Rocket blast at US Embassy in Kabul on 9/11 anniversary | The Fresno Bee

The UNAMA mission to Afghanistan expires in mid-September and, according to diplomats, efforts to extend it have hit trouble over China's push for the new mandate to include mention of Beijing's Belt and Road global infrastructure project.

A huge rocket blast was reported near the United States embassy in Afghanistan early Wednesday local time - just minutes into the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, officials said.

The UN envoy to Afghanistan on Tuesday urged all Afghan groups to open direct talks to end the country's long conflict after President Donald Trump shut down United States negotiations with Taliban insurgents.

Loudspeakers inside the office broadcast a warning that "an explosion caused by a rocket has occurred on compound" in the minutes after the strike at midnight, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

"As far as I'm concerned", Trump said in reference to the talks, "they are dead".

Given Mr. Trump's negotiation style, this announcement is not as much a "decision" as a pressure tactic.

"For the families who join us, this is your anniversary of personal and permanent loss", Trump said.

First Alert Forecast: local summery pattern, watching tropical waves in the Atlantic
Currently, however, four tropical systems are being closely monitored including Tropical Storm Gabrielle in the North Atlantic. The second is located near the Cape Verde Islands and has a 30% chance of development during the next five days.

The latest fighting underscored expectations of an escalation in violence following U.S. President Donald Trump's abrupt cancellation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing U.S. troops and opening the way to an end to 18 years of war in Afghanistan.

The number of USA troops peaked at around 100,000 but began to drop steadily after Bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Trump campaigned for president on a pledge to withdraw USA troops from Afghanistan. "One was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and negotiations", he said.

The peace negotiations - which were in their final stages, only requiring a final sign-off from both parties - were meant to smooth the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and ensure the Taliban did not use the country as a terrorist "safe haven".

He said: "What they did was awful, they killed an American soldier. I want to see if we can get to the final outcome we needed'".

About 30 Taliban militants were killed in an airstrike in Afghanistan's Takhar province, a local source said on Wednesday.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said: "We still hear much anxiety expressed by Afghan citizens particularly in view of the Taliban's stated threat to disrupt the electoral process, especially by targeting civilians participating in the elections".

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