Turkey may take part in Afghan solution: Russian envoy

The United States and Russia have agreed to explore options for securing UN travel waivers for Taliban negotiators to participate in peace talks a US envoy said on Friday. — Reuters

The United States and Russia have agreed to explore options for securing UN travel waivers for Taliban negotiators to participate in peace talks a US envoy said on Friday. — Reuters

The conflict in Afghanistan claimed 3,804 civilian lives that included 927 children, both all-time highs, leading to an 11 percent spike in civilian deaths versus 2017, the report from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said.

The United States and Russian Federation have agreed to explore options for securing UN travel waivers for Taliban negotiators to participate in peace talks, a U.S. envoy said on Friday.

An increase in air strikes by United States and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with more than 500 civilians killed by "aerial operations for the first time on record", the report noted.

The uptick in violence in 2018 coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the "deliberate targeting of civilians", according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by terrorists allied with the Taliban or ISIS.

Ground engagements, mainly between pro-government forces and anti-government groups, also remained a leading cause of civilian casualties.

The report comes a day before the next round of talks to end the conflict.

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Media captionThe rockets date back to the Soviet war in Afghanistan in 1980s. "It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy", said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the top United Nations official in Afghanistan.

During a meeting with his Kyrgyz counterpart Chingiz Aidarbekov in Beijing on Thursday, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi declared, "We will make the SCO Afghanistan contact group to play a better role so we can speed up the political settlement of Afghanistan internal issues", Afghanistan's TOLO News reports. "That is why there is all the more need now to use all our efforts to bring about peace".

Peace talks in Afghanistan have been gaining momentum, amid moves by US President Donald Trump to end US involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 American troops are still deployed.

"We will be pleased if [Turkey] attends the next meeting in Moscow" on Afghan peace talks, Kabulov said in a statement as quoted in a report by Anadolu News Agency on Friday. Pakistan set him free on Oct 25, 2018 on Ambassador Khalilzad's request to facilitate the Afghan peace talks.

While the Taliban have held talks with Afghan politicians and USA officials, they refuse to recognize or negotiate with the Kabul government - a rough patch that all sides are trying to resolve.

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