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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Photo: Nakib Murodov/Presidency of Tajikistan/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday made his first public remarks since the Taliban captured over half of the country's provincial capitals, saying that he's focusing on preventing "instability, violence and the displacement of people."

State of play: In a televised speech, Ghani gave no hints that he would resign, despite being under pressure from Afghan officials who want a transitional government headed by someone who can negotiate with the Taliban to prevent their takeover of Kabul, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • The removal of Ghani has been a demand by the Taliban as negotiations between Afghanistan, the Taliban, the United States and other nations continue in Qatar, the Journal notes.
  • Ghani is losing control of the country, ruling only Kabul and a few other cities, per The New York Times.

The big picture: Less than three weeks before the United States finishes its troop withdrawal, the Taliban has captured 19 provincial capitals, per AP, including the province of Logar, which is just miles south from Kabul.

  • The group also captured Sharana, the capital of the Paktika province, which borders Pakistan.

What he's saying: "I will try not to allow the imposed war to cause more casualties of innocent Afghan people, to lose the 20-year gains, to cause destruction of public property and to bring an enduring instability," Ghani said.

  • "For this reason, I have begun extensive and continued consultations within the system with political leaders, representatives of different groups in Afghanistan and international partners," he added.
  • "Consultations in this regard are swiftly going on and their results will be shared with you, my beloved compatriots, very soon."

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

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