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The head of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, Qatar's envoy on counter-terrorism Mutlaq al-Qahtani, and the leader of the Taliban negotiating team Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha on July 18. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images

Taliban leader Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhunzada said Sunday that the Taliban "strenuously favors a political settlement" in Afghanistan as the peace talks continue with the Afghan government delegation in Qatar, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Despite how the conciliatory words may sound, no peace deal appears imminent. Taliban and government forces are still fighting in dozens of provinces across Afghanistan, per AP.

State of play: The Taliban has rapidly gained territory in Afghanistan since the United States began its military withdrawal, which will conclude on Aug. 31.

The big picture: Meetings between the two sides took place over Saturday and Sunday, just days ahead of Eid al-Adha, which in many parts of the world begins Tuesday.

  • U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had previously expressed hope for a possible ceasefire ahead of the holiday.

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.

Airlines call for Biden admin's "immediate intervention" in 5G deployment

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The CEOs of leading U.S. air cargo and passenger carriers on Monday warned the Biden administration there could be "catastrophic disruption" after AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service this week.

Driving the news: They said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials ahead of the C-Band 5G service's deployment Wednesday that "the nation's commerce will grind to a halt" and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."

Updated 3 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.

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