This season of The Bachelorette was always going to be unconventional: Production was delayed for months because of the coronavirus; and some contestants were even recast in the interim. But all of those changes didn’t end up being the half of it.
After filming began in July following weeks of quarantine, there was another reported twist (spoilers ahead!). Just 12 days into filming, the Bachelorette, 39-year-old hairstylist Clare Crawley, had apparently fallen for one of the contestants. Because Crawley — who also happens to be the franchise’s oldest Bachelorette ever — was interested in pursuing a relationship with 32-year-old former professional football player Dale Moss, she didn’t want to continue with the rest of the season.
Crawley’s choice to leave the show left Bachelorette producers with a slew of single men looking for love and no Bachelorette to love them. Enter Tayshia Adams, a popular contestant from the 2019 season of The Bachelor (starring Colton Underwood), who the show is rumored to have cast as its new leading woman.
As such, the program’s 16th season will be the first ever to feature two different starring Bachelorettes. (A previous season included a competition between two women for the title, though only one went on to star on the show.) And Tuesday’s premiere certainly set viewers up for the drama that is yet to come.
Warning: There are some spoilers ahead.
If the pre-season reports are to be believed, Crawley appeared to do what many past cast members haven’t been able to: She not only genuinely found love, but she also did it on her own terms. “I know what I want,” she emphasized on Tuesday’s episode.
In the premiere, we see Crawley’s first meeting with all of her bachelor options, including Moss, which clearly indicated that the two hit it off. “Oh, man. I definitely feel like I just met my husband. I’m shaking!” Crawley said after their first encounter. As the leaks suggest, Crawley and Moss ended up feeling so strongly about one another that she decided to leave the show to be with him, and only him — an unprecedented move in the history of the franchise.
While Crawley and Moss haven’t publicly commented on their relationship status, a Reality Steve report indicated that the two are now engaged, which seems to suggest that her willingness to take a risk ended well. “Congratulations, you just blew up The Bachelorette,” host Chris Harrison says to Crawley in one preview.
Winner: The Bachelorette bubble
Because of the, you know, global pandemic, The Bachelorette had to be put together a little differently this year.
Before filming began, the contestants and crew were required to quarantine for two weeks and take multiple Covid-19 tests, a process that was featured prominently in the opening of the premiere. Instead of the cast starting out at the familiar Bachelor mansion and then setting out to various destinations around the United States and the world, contestants spent the entire season holed up at a resort in La Quinta, California. Nobody was allowed in, nobody was allowed out. Filming of the season wrapped in September.
The all-in-one-place setup isn’t entirely ideal. The Bachelorette compound recalls the “NBA “bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World, where fans appeared virtually in the stands of the game to create an artificial sense of a crowd. That conceit felt a little awkward, and the dates this season with everyone in close proximity will be, too.
But also like the NBA’s bubble, The Bachelorette’s bubble seems to have been a success from a precautionary perspective, at least. Thus far, there haven’t been any reports of cast members this season contracting Covid-19. That’s a big win for health and safety. The next season of The Bachelor, starring the show’s first Black Bachelor, Matt James, has already begun filming with a similar bubble approach.
In a world where the White House hasn’t been able to keep the novel coronavirus at bay, The Bachelorette’s ability to do so is impressive, especially given that a good portion of the show is people making out. The producers have demonstrated a level of organization and discipline that much of the highest tiers of government in America have not been able to muster.
If any show were ever poised to be a superspreader, it might be the Bachelor franchise. And it managed to be not that.
While the show has had its rough patches this year, the anticipated switch-up in Bachelorettes is, in fact, the very type of drama this franchise thrives on.
After rumors about Crawley’s decision to quit the show began to circulate earlier this summer, fans seemed to come up with a new theory daily about how the franchise would replace her. While one of fans’ main guesses was that Tayshia Adams would be cast as the new leading woman, another idea was that multiple Bachelor alumni would come back to find love. And some of Bachelor Nation even thought that Bachelor in Paradise was filming at the same time after more familiar faces were spotted on set.
All of these theories only served to build the very kind of buzz that heightened anticipation for a new season. With little still known about how The Bachelorette is going to handle some of its big surprises this cycle, the ongoing mystery and messiness around how the expected Bachelorette switcheroo will all play out only adds more novelty to the drama.
By the time the season premiere aired on Tuesday, you knew something weird was going down. The teasers made that clear way ahead of time, thanks to Chris Harrison congratulating Clare on “blow[ing] up The Bachelorette.” When the season kicked off on Tuesday, Harrison promised viewers would “find out the truth about the rumors Bachelor Nation has been buzzing about.”
In ordinary times, I avoid reality show spoilers like, well, the plague. I’ve never been persuaded by the argument that knowing what’s going to happen helps you appreciate how the show manipulates viewers in order to present them with a coherent narrative. I want to be surprised by the twists and turns.
But these are not ordinary times. In March, the real world had stopped. Sports had been postponed. I wondered if The Bachelorette would be canceled, too, like everything else. The future looked grim.
So I found myself reading the hugely popular Reality Steve blog in early August, enthralled as Steve tried to make sense of the confusing, borderline-nonsensical rumors that had leaked out of the bubble. I became obsessed with Clare’s defection and the possibility of a second (and even third?) Bachelorette emerging on this upcoming season.
There was something bracingly, wonderfully normal about this gossip in those most abnormal of days. Rather than ruin the fun, the spoilers bore a promise: No matter what else is going on in the world, The Bachelor franchise will always be itself. The only constant is drama, with every season beginning with the potential to be the most dramatic ever.
2020 was the year that I, at long last, learned to stop worrying and love spoilers.
Loser: The guys who are not Dale
Obviously, almost every contestant on The Bachelorette winds up a loser — after all, only one person can get that final rose. But usually, most contestants get a chance to at least compete. Not this season. Halfway through Tuesday’s premiere, Clare declared she believed she had found her husband before all the men had even exited their limos to meet her.
When she met Moss, a former pro football wide receiver, Clare was clearly rattled. “I think I just met my husband,” she said, exclaiming that she was shaking. Host Chris Harrison approached her to ask what was up. “Every other guy I felt confident with, but with Dale, everything else went dark around me,” she said.
Harrison reminded Clare that there was at least supposedly a long road ahead of her, but Clare … seemed to not be super interested in the prospect. After some time alone with Dale in the mansion, she said in a voiceover, “I know what I’m looking for, and I’m big on energy and vibes.”
For the 30 non-Dales cast on Clare’s season, this is probably not what they envisioned. It’s true that many past Bachelorettes have wound up choosing the men they gave their “first impression” roses to at the very end, but none have demonstrated this kind of tunnel vision. (Clare, obviously, gave her first rose to Dale.)
On the one hand, you like what you like, and Clare clearly likes Dale. On the other hand, first impressions are not always right.
These guys have put their lives on pause, quarantined, and undergone multiple Covid-19 tests (about which they whined very much). Think of poor Bennett, the New York City wealth investment manager who obnoxiously rolled up in a Rolls Royce, or Yosef, who was allegedly messaging women on social media in the lead-up to filming. Both were on a potential path to be the season’s villain — a path that might not be taken.
Tuesday’s season premiere was pretty standard, ending in the first rose ceremony, so technically we’re not supposed to know what happens. But we probably know: Clare and Dale exit the show early together, and the other contestants are just out of luck. Maybe some stick around for Tayshia, but it’s not really clear if that’s the case.
While nabbing the first kiss with the Bachelorette or Bachelor is often one of the most coveted moments of the season, the simple act of the hug also got the love it deserved on Tuesday.
Available in much shorter supply these days because of social distancing and the ongoing pandemic, hugs were roundly celebrated in the premiere for how rare they are now. “It’s hard coming out of quarantine when I haven’t even hugged anybody for months,” Crawley said, tearing up.
Loser: Tyler C
In the Bachelor universe, there is no more potent attack against one of your competitors than accusing them of not being there for the right reasons. But it’s a card that must be played wisely.
Tyler C., a West Virginia lawyer, thought he would get the upper hand against Yosef, a medical device salesman from Alabama. He told some of the other guys that he had heard from women who live in his hometown that Yosef had messaged them over Instagram during the Covid-19 quarantine. He confronted Yosef about it, all but promising to take that information to Clare.
But Tyler C. got outmaneuvered.
Yosef went straight to Clare and told her he wanted to clear the air. With a veteran like Clare, familiar with all the Bachelor tropes and none more than “being there for the right reasons,” it’s always better to look like you’re trying to dispel drama rather than introduce it.
Tyler C. seemed to realize during their three-person sitdown that somehow the tables had been turned. He looked like the bad guy, whatever the truth was about Yosef’s DMing habits. He also got burned, with Yosef unforgettably calling Tyler C. a “mini-McConaughey.” It was a rapid fall from grace for a guy who seemed promising during his first interaction with Clare.
And that proved out in the rose ceremony, when Yosef was granted the last rose and Tyler was sent home. Nothing may be normal during this pandemic-tinged season. But some of the old rules still apply.
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All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year
Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.
Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.
So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.
Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.
Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)
During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.
Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)
Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.
Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)
Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.
Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)
This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.
Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)
If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.
Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)
With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.
Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)
The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.
Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)
Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.
Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)
Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.
Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)
The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.
The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.
The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.
The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.
Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)
We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.
Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)
The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.
Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)
The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.
Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)
Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.
Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)
Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.
Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.
Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)
With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.
Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)
Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.
Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)
The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.
Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)
The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.
Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained
Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.
In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.
Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.
It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.
Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.
Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.
Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.
The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”
At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.
On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.
That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.
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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year
From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.
Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.
From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.
“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.
Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.
The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.
Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.
Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.
Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.
The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.
Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
Calls for urgent reduction of violence
Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.
Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.
“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.
There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.
1/4 I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever. https://t.co/hVl4b032W6
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) October 27, 2020
A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.
But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.
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