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Afghanistan seeks ‘clarification’ after Trump says he could wipe it ‘off the face of the earth’

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Afghanistan leaders called for clarification on Tuesday after President Donald Trump’s remarks that the U.S. military could win the 18-year war in Afghanistan in 10 days but that the country would be “wiped off the face of the earth” in doing so.

“While the Afghan government supports the U.S. efforts for ensuring peace in Afghanistan, the government underscores that foreign heads of state cannot determine Afghanistan’s fate,” the Afghanistan president’s office said in a statement. “Given the multifaceted relationship between Afghanistan and the United States, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan calls for clarification on the U.S. President’s statements.”

Trump made the remarks on Monday at the White House while seated next to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to kill 10 million people. If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone. It would be over in — literally, in 10 days. And I don’t want to do — I don’t want to go that route.”

The comments came as the top U.S. diplomat for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, arrived in Kabul for discussions with Afghan leadership on the next steps to reach an agreement to end to America’s longest war. The U.S. Special Representative’s trip as well as his meetings had been announced by the State Department prior to the president’s remarks.

Khalilzad is in Kabul this week “identifying a national negotiating team that can participate in intra-Afghan negotiations,” according to a statement from the State Department. The Afghan government has previously refused to speak directly with the Taliban and expressed frustration about being left out of the negotiating process.

The Special Representative will then head to Qatar for the next round of discussions with the Taliban.

Earlier Tuesday, Khalilzad attempted to clarify the remarks in a tweet saying Trump “had reiterated to the world that there is no viable military solution to the war in Afghanistan and that peace must be achieved through a political settlement.”

Khalilzad met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday afternoon and the Afghanistan President’s Office said the two had discussed Trump’s remarks.

Trump also said Monday that the administration had reduced the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan “by quite a bit,” and was continuing to do so.

But speaking from Kabul last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that while the US was prepared to remove American troops from Afghanistan, the two sides had not yet reached an agreement on a timeline.



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Disgraced MP Jared O’Mara hilariously mocked on his OWN Twitter account by ex-employee

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A MEMBER of the disgraced MP Jared O’Mara’s staff has resigned in spectacular fashion – by taking over his former bosses Twitter account and accusing him of being “the most disgustingly morally bankrupt person I have ever had the displeasure of working with”.

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Ex-Flynn business partner convicted of illegal lobbying

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A jury on Tuesday convicted a one-time business partner of former national security adviser Michael Flynn on charges he illegally acted as a Turkish agent when he and Flynn undertook a project to discredit an exiled cleric wanted by Turkey’s government.

Bijan Kian was convicted on charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent, according to Josh Stueve, a spokesman for the US attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 18.

The convictions came despite comments by the judge made outside the jury’s presence that the government’s evidence was weak.

The jury concluded that Kian worked to conceal Turkey’s involvement in the contract, which targeted Fethullah Gulen. The cleric is blamed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a failed coup there in 2016.

Prosecutors made their case without testimony from Flynn, who had initially been expected to be the government’s star witness.

Under federal law, individuals working on behalf of foreign governments are required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act to provide a measure of transparency.

Prosecutors say Flynn and Kian received hundreds of thousands of dollars through their joint business venture, the Flynn Intel Group, to discredit Gulen. Those efforts included a November 2016 op-ed piece in The Hill newspaper in which Flynn compared Gulen to Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Prosecutors argued that Turkey’s involvement in the project was deliberately hidden when Flynn Intel Group received payment through a Dutch company run by a prominent Turkish businessman.

Defense lawyers, though, said the contract with the business was legitimate. They also presented testimony that Kian, whose full name is Bijan Rafiekian, initially planned to register under FARA but was told he did not have to after consulting a lawyer. They argued it would be wrong to convict Kian of a crime when he received legal advice recommending the opposite.

The case against Kian spun off from special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians.

Flynn was a major foreign policy adviser to Trump during the campaign, and served briefly as his national security adviser. He has pleaded guilty to making false statements in a separate case, and admitted in that case that he lied about Turkey’s involvement in the contract.

Flynn’s own sentencing was put on hold in part to gauge his level of cooperation with prosecutors in the Kian case. Flynn’s lawyers have complained that prosecutors had no good reason to reverse course on putting Flynn on the stand and have worried that the decision to label Flynn as an unindicted coconspirator will hurt him at his own sentencing.

The Turkish government has also criticized the government’s case. In a statement to The Associated Press, Turkey’s presidential spokesman, Fahrettin Altun, said that “(t)he idea that we would conspire against the United States is preposterous.”

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