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Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Mark Esper arrived in Kabul on Sunday for his first visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary, as he looked to jump-start peace talks that President Trump declared "dead" after a Taliban bombing killed an American servicemember in early September, AP reports.

The state of play: Esper's visit comes almost a month after Afghanistan's Sept. 28 election, the results of which have still not been announced amid technical ballot difficulties and allegations of fraud. More than 1,100 Afghan civilians were killed and 3,139 wounded between July and September, marking the deadliest three-month stretch of violence for civilians in the past decade, the Washington Post reports.

  • Esper said he plans to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and that "the aim is to still get a peace agreement at some point," per AP.
  • The U.S. currently has about 14,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. Trump had ordered the withdrawal of about 5,500 troops in conjunction with a peace deal struck with the Taliban, but September's events derailed his plans to end America's longest war.

Go deeper: Trump orders stepped-up military operations in Afghanistan

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

8 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.