CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through The Points Guy affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.
With 2021 now around the corner and travel likely to begin opening up at some point next year, you might be starting to think about your next vacation — even if it’s just a short drive away. And since the Marriott hotel chain has such a large presence both domestically and globally, you may be considering whether a Marriott credit card makes sense for you.
If it does, there’s probably never been a better time to score a terrific welcome offer, because both American Express and Chase are offering increased bonuses on their Marriott credit cards right now. Even better, one set of offers is focused on points, while the other features free nights, so there are options for everyone.
Let’s look at the American Express offers first. For a limited time until Jan. 13, 2021, new card members can earn up to 125,000 Marriott bonus points with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. Those points break down like this: You’ll earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in purchases in the first three months after opening the account, plus an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of card membership. New card members will also get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum elite status for one year, between Feb. 1, 2021, and Jan. 31, 2022, with the Marriott Brilliant Amex card.
For business owners, the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card currently offers 100,000 Marriott bonus points after you make $5,000 in purchases within your first three months of card membership, plus you can earn up to $150 in statement credits within your first six months of card membership for eligible purchases made with your card on U.S. advertising in select media. And on top of that, you’ll get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum elite status for one year, between Feb. 1, 2021, and Jan. 31, 2022. This offer is also only available for a limited time until Jan. 13, 2021.
Meanwhile, on the Chase side, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card isn’t offering bonus points to new card holders, but rather five free nights (up to 50,000 points per night) after spending $5,000 in purchases in the first three months after opening the account. The free night certificates are valid for one year from date of issuance.
You’ll get excellent value with all three of these card offers, so deciding which offer to choose probably depends on which card is right for you. Let’s dive into the details of each card.
Marriott Brilliant credit card benefits
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is a card for people who frequently find themselves at Marriott hotels, as it comes with a slew of elite perks, but also a high $450 annual fee. However, one of the best features of the card is up to $300 in statement credits annually for Marriott purchases. If you can use those credits in full each year, you’re effectively only paying a net annual fee of $150.
The card earns 6 points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3 points per dollar at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.
You also get 15 elite night credits with the Marriott Brilliant Amex, which means you’ll get automatic Silver Elite status every year you have the card after your introductory Platinum status expires, and you can upgrade to Gold Elite status by spending $35,000 on the card each year.
When it comes to the welcome bonus, you might be wondering how much 125,000 Marriott points are worth? Well, based on the point valuations of CNN Underscored’s partner The Points Guy, Marriott points are worth 0.8 cents a piece, which makes this bonus worth $1,000, which is a sizeable haul of hotel points.
However, it’s important to note that 25,000 points of that bonus don’t arrive until the start of the second year you have the card, which means you’ll be paying the $450 annual fee for two years to get the full bonus. That’s not a problem if you intend to keep the card for the long term, but it’s something to consider if you’re thinking about just trying it out for a year.
But at the start of that second year (and every year thereafter), you’ll also get a complimentary award certificate that can be used at any Marriott hotel for one night costing 50,000 points or less. This means you can use it at any category 1 through 5 property on the Marriott award chart, plus standard redemptions at category 6 hotels and off-peak redemptions for category 7 properties.
Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card.
Marriott Business credit card benefits
If you’re a small business traveler who expects to be back on the road more often in 2021, the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card could be a good fit. The card comes with a much lower $125 annual fee, but also has the same 15 elite credits as the Marriott Brilliant card, which you can “stack” together for a total of 30 elite nights if you also hold one of the other personal Marriott cards.
With the Marriott Business Amex, you’ll earn 6 points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 4 points per dollar at US restaurants, at US gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers and on US purchases for shipping, and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.
Just like with the Marriott Brilliant card, you’ll get a complimentary award night each year starting with your second card member year, but with this business card, the free nights can be used at Marriott properties with a redemption level up to 35,000 points. That means you can use it at any category 1 through 5 property on the Marriott award chart except for category 5 hotels during peak periods.
Given that easy access to travel is currently an unknown, the timing on this certificate actually works out fairly well. Since you don’t receive your first certificate until you’ve had the card for a year, you won’t have to worry about trying to use it right now, but you’ll have access to it a year from now when it’s more likely you can really use a free hotel night, perhaps for a sorely-needed vacation. You can also earn a second award night after you spend $60,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year.
The 100,000 bonus points on the Marriott Business Amex are worth $800 based on The Points Guy’s valuations, but you also get up to $150 in statement credits for eligible purchases made with your card on U.S. advertising in select media in the first six months after opening the account. So if you can maximize the points and credits, you can get as much as $950 in value from the bonus.
Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card.
Marriott Boundless credit card benefits
If you’d prefer not to worry about points and would rather just have free nights, the sign-up bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card is an absolutely fantastic value. The five free nights can be used at any Marriott property with a redemption level of 50,000 points or less, which opens up a ton of options.
The one caveat to keep in mind is that the five free nights must be used within one year from the date they’re issued, so you can’t hold onto these nights for years on end. If you don’t think you’ll be able to use them all in that timeframe, then one of the points options might be a better choice since Marriott points don’t expire as long as you have activity in your Marriott account once every 24 months (and even that deadline has been temporarily suspended for many members during the pandemic).
In addition to the sign-up bonus, there are many other benefits that are extended to Marriott Boundless card holders, making this a nice card to hold onto year after year if you plan to stay at Marriott hotels on a regular basis when travel returns to normal.
With this card, you’ll receive complimentary Marriott Silver elite status for as long as you’re a card holder. Silver status gets you late checkout and a 10% bonus on points earned during your Marriott stays. Although this is Marriott’s lowest-tier elite status, having some sort of status is better than no status at all, and it could potentially even get you a better room during check-in (though improved rooms are not guaranteed).
Or, if you’re looking to earn a higher level of elite status, the Marriott Boundless card also comes with 15 annual elite night credits, which can stack with the 15 elite nights from the Marriott Business Amex for a total of 30 elite nights. Alternatively, you can also earn Marriott Gold elite status by spending $35,000 on the card each account year.
The Marriott Boundless card also comes with its own complimentary award certificate. Starting with your first yearly account renewal and every year thereafter, you’ll receive a certificate that can be used at any Marriott hotel for one night costing 35,000 points or less.
Other great perks include baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement and purchase protection. And with the Marriott Boundless card carrying only a $95 annual fee, you can easily come out well ahead with all these card holder perks. In fact, if you can use the card’s complimentary award night each year for a room that would otherwise cost $95 or more, you’ll easily make the card worth it.
Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card.
Is a Marriott credit card right for you?
Marriott has about 30 different brands under its umbrella, which means there are plenty of opportunities across the globe to redeem your Marriott points or use free nights. Whether you want to stay at an ultra-luxury beach destination in the Caribbean or a few miles down from your favorite amusement park, there’s generally a Marriott property for everyone.
Obviously, if you don’t stay at Marriott hotels very often, then a Marriott credit card probably isn’t a good fit. But if you do expect to be at a Marriott even a few times in 2021, then any of these three Marriott credit cards are worth considering for their welcome offers alone, and then to keep on an ongoing basis, especially for the annual complimentary award certificates.
So if you’re just a casual Marriott traveler, consider the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card from Chase, while small businesses with an owner or employees that make a lot of Marriott stays can choose the Marriott Bonvoy Business card from American Express. And Marriott fanatics who can use all the perks — and the up to $300 in annual statement credits — should grab the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express and get the best that Marriott offers.
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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