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Taliban Calls Off Peace Talks With The U.S, Due To ‘Agenda Disagreement’

The document, reviewed by Reuters, suggests that the United States and NATO withdraw their military missions in phases over an expected period of 18 months.

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USA, afghanistan, taliban, peace talks, pakistan
U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

The Afghan Taliban said Tuesday they had called off peace talks with U.S. officials in Qatar this week due to an “agenda disagreement,” especially over the involvement of Afghan officials as well as a possible cease-fire and prisoner exchange.

Two days of peace talks had been set to start Wednesday, Taliban officials told Reuters earlier, but the hardline Islamic militant group had refused to allow “puppet” Afghan officials to join.

The U.S. ambassador to Kabul, John Bass, tweeted that reports of U.S.-Taliban talks on Wednesday were “inaccurate” and added: “Taliban should talk to fellow Afghans as much as they talk to media.”

Taliban, afghanistan, pakistan, U.S.
Members of Taliban delegation take their seats during the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Nov. 9, 2018. VOA

A separate tweet from the U.S. embassy in the Afghan capital stressed that intra-Afghan talks were “essential” to settling the conflict.

The State Department later announced that U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad would lead an interagency delegation to India, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan from Jan. 8-21 that would meet senior government officials in each country “to facilitate an intra-Afghan political settlement.”

It said Khalilzad continued to coordinate his efforts with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and other Afghan stakeholders.

“The U.S. goal is to promote dialogue among Afghans about how to end the conflict, and to encourage the parties to come together at the negotiating table to reach a political settlement,” the statement said.

Peace Talks, taliban
In this photo released by Inter Services Public Relations of Pakistan’s military, U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, talks with Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa during a meeting in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Dec. 19, 2018. VOA

The war in Afghanistan is America’s longest overseas military intervention. It has cost Washington nearly $1 trillion and killed tens of thousands of people.

Reports last month about U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan triggered uncertainty in Kabul, which depends on the United States and other foreign powers for military support and training.

A Taliban source told Reuters that U.S. officials had insisted that the Taliban should meet Afghan officials in Qatar and said “both sides were in disagreement over declaring a cease-fire in 2019.”

“Both sides have agreed to not meet in Qatar,” he added.

Prisoner exchange

A Taliban leader had told Reuters that the talks, which would have been the fourth round with Khalilzad, would have involved a U.S. withdrawal, prisoner exchange and the lifting of a ban on movement of Taliban leaders.

taliban, afghanistan, U.S.
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, right, head of the Taliban’s political council in Qatar, takes part in the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Nov. 9, 2018. VOA

Taliban sources said that they had demanded that U.S. authorities release 25,000 prisoners and they would free 3,000, but that U.S. officials were not keen to discuss the exchange at this stage.

“We would never announce any cease-fire until and unless we achieve major gains on the ground. We have the feeling that Zalmay Khalilzad doesn’t have enough power to make important decisions,” another Taliban official said.

Afghan officials

The Taliban have rejected repeated requests from regional powers to allow Afghan officials to take part in the talks, insisting that the United States is their main adversary.

The insurgents, seeking to reimpose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster by U.S.-led troops, called off a meeting with U.S. officials in Saudi Arabia this week because of Riyadh’s insistence involving the Afghan government.

The United States sent troops to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. At its peak the U.S. deployment involved more than 100,000 troops, but Washington withdrew most in 2014 and now has around 14,000 troops in the country as part of a NATO-led mission aiding Afghan security forces and hunting militants.

Imran Khan, Taliban
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Nov. 21, 2018. VOA

As peace talks gained momentum, a draft agreement drawn up by the influential U.S. think tank RAND Corporation outlining the clauses for a potential peace deal was circulated among Afghan officials and diplomats in Kabul.

Also Read: Trilateral Summit On Afghan Peace To Be Hosted By Turkey

The document, reviewed by Reuters, suggests that the United States and NATO withdraw their military missions in phases over an expected period of 18 months. It adds that the United States may continue providing civilian assistance.

The U.S. embassy tweet said RAND’s work was independent of the U.S. government and did not represent U.S. policy. (VOA)

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Americans Tend to Rely on Social Media for News which is often Unreliable: Report

Those who rely on social media and peers for news, on the other hand, don't see those platforms as reliable yet still choose to get their news from these sources

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Social Media
The findings of a research suggest that perceived reliability is not the only factor that drives what Americans choose as their go-to News sources on Social Media. Pixabay

Owing to lack of time and competing demands, one-third of Americans rely on news platforms they acknowledge are less reliable, mainly social media and peers, says a new report.

The other two-thirds of the public consider their primary news sources trustworthy, mainly print news and broadcast television, according to the report from California-based non-profit RAND Corporation.

“A lack of time and competing demands may explain why a third of Americans turn to news sources they deem less reliable, which suggests improving the quality of news content or teaching people how to ‘better consume’ news isn’t enough to address ‘Truth Decay,'” said Jennifer Kavanagh, senior political scientist and co-author of the report.

“Media companies and other news providers may need to provide more easily accessible and digestible ways for individuals to consume high quality investigative journalism”.

“Truth Decay” is a phenomenon defined as diminishing reliance on facts, data and analysis in public life.

The report draws from a national survey of 2,543 Americans to examine how reliability, demographics and political partisanship factor into news choices and how often people seek out differing viewpoints in the news.

About 44 per cent of respondents reported that news is as reliable now as in the past, while 41 per cent said it has become less reliable and 15 per cent – mostly women, racial and ethnic minorities and those without college degrees – said it is more reliable.

Social Media
Owing to lack of time and competing demands, one-third of Americans rely on News platforms they acknowledge are less reliable, mainly Social Media and peers, says a new report. Pixabay

Respondents who lean on print and broadcast platforms were more likely to deem them reliable.

Those who rely on social media and peers for news, on the other hand, don’t see those platforms as reliable yet still choose to get their news from these sources.

“The findings suggest that perceived reliability is not the only factor that drives what Americans choose as their go-to news sources,” said Michael Pollard, a sociologist and lead author of the report.
“Despite acknowledging that there are more reliable sources for news, people with demands on their time may be limited to using less reliable platforms.”

Asked whether they ever seek out alternate viewpoints when catching up on the news, 54 per cent said they “sometimes” do, 20 percent said, “always or almost always,” 17 per cent said “infrequently,” and 9 percent said, “never or almost never.”

The report also identified the four most common combinations of news media types consumed by Americans: print publications and broadcast television, online, radio, and social media and peers.

Those who are college-educated were less likely to get their news from social media and peers, instead opting for radio and online sources.

Social Media
Media companies and other News providers may need to provide more easily accessible and digestible ways for individuals to consume high quality investigative journalism, especially on Social Media. Pixabay

Those with less than a college education were more likely to report “never or almost never” seeking out news with alternate viewpoints.

“Those who are married were three times more likely than singles to rate their peers as the most reliable source for news,” said the report.

ALSO READ: Here’s how you can Appear More Competent Through your Clothing

Unmarried people were more likely than married people to report they “always or almost always” seek out sources with differing views. (IANS)