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Jan 1, 2013

Top Afghan negotiator optimistic over peace prospects

KABUL (Reuters) – A top Afghan peace negotiator said he was cautiously optimistic about prospects for reconciliation with the Taliban and that all sides now realized a military solution to the war was not possible.

Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai also told Reuters that the Kabul government hoped to transform the Afghan Taliban, who have proved resilient after more than a decade of war against U.S.-led NATO and Afghan troops, into a political movement.

Dec 26, 2012

Mental illness, poverty haunted Afghan policewoman who killed American

KABUL (Reuters) – The Afghan policewoman suspected of killing a U.S. contractor at police headquarters in Kabul suffered from mental illness and was driven to suicidal despair by poverty, her children told Reuters on Wednesday.

The woman was identified by authorities as Narges Rezaeimomenabad, a 40-year-old grandmother and mother of three who moved here from Iran 10 years ago and married an Afghan man.

Dec 26, 2012

Spring Wish denied as suicide bomber brings down Afghan juice empire

KABUL (Reuters) – When a Taliban suicide bomber killed two people on the edge of the Afghan capital this month, there was another casualty – a global fruit juice business optimistically called “Spring Wish” which provided work for thousands of farmers across the country.

Mustafa Sadiq’s empire had been expanding healthily, bringing in badly needed foreign capital, before the attack inflicted the kind of financial loss cash-strapped Afghanistan can ill afford.

Dec 24, 2012

Pakistan, Afghanistan trying to turn Taliban into political movement

KABUL (Reuters) – Pakistan is genuine about backing the nascent Afghan peace process and shares the Kabul government’s goal of transforming the Taliban insurgency into a political movement, a senior Afghan government official told Reuters.

“They have told us that they share the vision contained in our roadmap which is basically to transform the Taliban from a military entity into a political entity to enable them to take part in the Afghan political process and peacefully seek power like any other political entity in Afghanistan, he said.

Dec 6, 2012

Bomber posing as peace envoy wounds Afghan spy chief

KABUL (Reuters) – A Taliban suicide bomber posing as a peace messenger wounded Afghanistan’s intelligence chief in Kabul on Thursday, another sign that the government is struggling to improve security ahead of a NATO pullout in 2014.

Asadullah Khalid was wounded when the bomber struck in a meeting at a guesthouse used by the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

Dec 6, 2012

Taliban claim suicide attack on Afghan spy chief

KABUL (Reuters) – The Taliban said on Thursday they carried out a suicide bombing that wounded Afghanistan’s intelligence chief in Kabul, another sign that the government is struggling to improve security ahead of a NATO pullout in 2014.

Asadullah Khalid was wounded when the bomber struck at a guesthouse used by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a heavily guarded area of the capital. The intelligence agency said he had survived a “terrorist attack”.

Nov 29, 2012

Chinese return to Afghan mine project – minister

KABUL (Reuters) – Most of the roughly 170 Chinese workers who fled rocket attacks on the largest foreign investment project in Afghanistan have returned because of improved security, the Afghan mining minister said on Thursday.

Officials had been trying to convince Chinese workers to restart work at the Aynak copper deposit in Logar province, one of the most dangerous regions of the country.

Nov 11, 2012

Pakistan urges all Afghan insurgents to pursue peace: ambassador

KABUL (Reuters) – Pakistan hopes to persuade Afghan insurgent groups, including the lethal Haqqani network, to pursue peace but worries resistance from political factions opposed to the Taliban could undermine reconciliation efforts, Islamabad’s ambassador said.

Mohammad Sadiq, speaking in an interview, also suggested U.S. efforts would be better directed at engaging insurgent groups — rather than attempting to defeat them by launching military strikes against their leaders.

Nov 9, 2012

No breakthrough in Afghan peace efforts before 2014: official

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s government has failed to secure direct talks with the Taliban and no significant progress is expected before 2014, when most NATO combat troops withdraw, a senior Afghan official closely involved with reconciliation efforts said on Friday.

“No breakthrough is expected before the 2014 election,” the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Nov 8, 2012

Obama must clean up Afghan politics: opposition leader

KABUL (Reuters) – Prominent Afghan opposition leader Ahmad Zia Masood has urgent advice for President Barack Obama in his second term – clean up Afghan politics before the next election or risk civil war.

Masood said a number of factors could trigger another internal conflict after most NATO combat troops leave at the end of 2014, including growing fears of another Taliban takeover.