Sacha Baron Cohen is not the star of his new movie, and I suspect he knows it.
The true star of Borat 2 — excuse me, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan — is Maria Bakalova, who plays the daughter of disgraced Kazakh media personality Borat Sagdiyev (Baron Cohen). Bakalova is actually 24, but in the film, she is 15-year-old Tutar Sagdiyev, the oldest unmarried woman in Kazakstan (according to Borat), playing sidekick to her trickster father on his second trip to America.
Having destroyed the reputation of Kazakhstan with his 2006 film (the first Borat, the one that prompted every dude you know to say “mah waiiife” for a good decade when he wanted to be funny), Borat has been doing hard labor as punishment. But he is summoned to the premier’s office and given the task of offering a gift to America’s leadership to restore Kazakhstan’s standing in the eyes of its new president, “McDonald Trump.” He knows just what to present to Trump’s closest colleague, Michael Pence, vice premier of America: a monkey.
When he arrives stateside, Borat discovers Tutar has stowed away in the monkey’s crate for the trip and, well, gotten hungry on the way over. That makes him realize something: Maybe she would make a better gift? She is delighted by the idea, lit up by the notion that she might be the next “queen of America,” like Melania Trump — who, after all, is from Slovenia. Slovenia’s not all that not close to Kazakhstan, but it’s closer than America.
To tackle that challenge, though, she’s going to need a makeover. And in typical Borat fashion — with unsuspecting hairdressers and dress shop owners and other civilians not quite realizing they’re the object of fun — Tutar is transformed from a ratty-haired gremlin into a woman.
Long, dyed-blonde hair with barrel curls, bold lipstick and eye makeup, and a form-fitting dress: If Tutar’s makeover looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen it on TV before. The look that ruled Hollywood for decades and perhaps reached its apex in Baywatch star Pamela Anderson (the unlucky object of Borat’s affection in the first movie) has migrated to Fox News, where many have noted the clone-like similarities among on-air female talent.
Bakalova has a tough job in Subsequent Moviefilm, playing a teenager nearly a decade younger than herself. A teenager who has been living in a stable behind her family’s hovel and fed lies all her life about what women can and cannot do: Women cannot drive. They cannot read. They cannot be educated or choose whom to marry or engage in, uh, sexy times. They cannot touch their “vagines,” because of the teeth.
But Bakalova plunges into it with aplomb and steals the show from Baron Cohen, who mostly reprises his old shtick, tricking people into saying things they probably wouldn’t want to be seen onscreen saying. Although, who knows? If the past four (let alone 14) years have shifted anything, it’s our sense of what people will do on camera, whether to get attention or just because they’re a huge honking racist.
In any case, Bakalova’s total commitment to the role is both impressive and necessary, because this movie requires her to get leered at by older men. A lot. It happens at stores and in public places, at a debutante ball (where a man says $500 would be a “fair price” for her, to the disgust of the man’s daughter), and at a plastic surgeon’s office, where Tutar and Borat are pricing out the cost of giving her huge breasts and maybe evening out her nose a little. And it happens, as you may already know, in a room with Rudy Giuliani.
The Giuliani moment is what got the most attention after the reviews started pouring in on Wednesday. In case you were lucky enough to miss the news: There’s a sequence in the movie in which Tutar — who has been rejected by Pence at CPAC, sort of, and has settled on trying to marry Giuliani because he is close to Trump and, unlike several former presidential advisers, isn’t in jail — decides to pose as a journalist to get close to Giuliani.
Dressed in nude stilettos and a mint-green, skin-tight sheath dress, she arranges to “interview” Giuliani in a midtown Manhattan hotel suite, and he agrees. He calls her darlin’ a lot and seems mostly just flattered by the attention in the interview.
Then he follows her into the bedroom, drink in hand. He says “c’mere, c’mere” several times, moving her closer to him and removing her microphone. She removes his. He says she should give him her number and address. He sits on the edge of the bed. He lays down. He puts his hand down his pants, adjusting something in the crotch region for about 10 seconds, and then Baron Cohen, clad in a bodysuit made to look like lingerie, rushes in and declares that Tutar is 15, “too old for you.”
The scene is edited, and Giuliani has denied that he was doing anything untoward, saying he was merely tucking in his shirt. (It does look as if he could plausibly be tucking in his shirt, though I’m not sure why one would do that while lying down, or why a simple task would take that long.) After the past few years, I’m not particularly inclined to believe Rudy Giuliani about much of anything. Here’s a troubling possibility: He was reaching down to fondle his genitals, potentially without consent or prompting, while in the room with a virtual stranger who is obviously far younger than he, but whom he had no reason to think is a teenager.
Anyhow. Perhaps more revealing than the incident itself is what the film points out through Bakalova’s character: A certain womanly aesthetic, appealing to a certain sort of man, is prevalent enough that it can be easily exploited.
The Fox News look, after all, is the network’s inheritance from its founder Roger Ailes, whose sexual harassment and decrees that women should wear short skirts on camera are no secret. It’s hardly only conservative men who are inclined to give credence for no real reason to a pretty young woman who flirts with them a little. But it’s equally true that conservative men are certainly susceptible (recall the case of Maria Butina), and that adopting a particular look can go a long way for ladder-climbers or would-be grifters.
That’s probably why, watching Tutar’s antics in this film, I found myself thinking of White Noise, a documentary also out this week that’s about three notorious figures on the alt-right: shit-stirrer and Pizzagate conspiracist memelord Mike Cernovich, avowed white nationalist Richard Spencer, and anti-immigrant YouTube personality Lauren Southern. Directed by journalist Daniel Lombroso, who spent years following each of the trio around, the movie follows the trajectory of a certain kind of young, attractive racist American in public life over the past few years, and the role of the internet in their rise to fame.
White Noise is a great and illuminating film, far more engaging and smart than most journalistic profiles of each of these people. But here’s the most striking realization, by the end: This is a portrait of loud, proud, opportunistic grifters — less ideologues than people who’ve figured out how to game the system to get the most eyeballs (and, very importantly, money). Gaming that system, all pastiche and depthless intensities, is chiefly a function of figuring out how to project an image your audience finds appealing.
The grifting impulse that has taken hold in America, from Fyre Festival to Anna Delvey to whatever Jacob Wohl’s whole deal is, owes no fealty to specific political parties. The con man is an archetype as old as time, and certainly a time-honored element of American culture. The internet has made it very simple to create a persona of your choice — and far more rewarding to loudly proclaim it. The way social media platforms enable grifters to scramble to the top of the heap is something all three of the White Noise subjects know intimately, and something Lombroso captures with skill.
But it seems at times like Southern understands it the best. Beautiful, blonde, with an arch smile and a bold, confident exterior, she fits the archetype precisely. As captured in White Noise, she gives off distinct Regina George vibes, and it works for her as long as she’s willing to ignore the sexual harassment directed at her.
Living in the boys’ club of white supremacist internet personalities, she makes it clear that she knows her fame comes from both her ability to take extreme positions, which “puts her on the map,” and her visibility as a pretty woman whom men like to watch laugh at their jokes and say outrageous things that confirm their biases. In one sequence, we listen in on her side of a phone conversation with Gavin McInnes, the (married) founder of the Proud Boys, that strongly suggests he attempted to get her to sleep with him. (Onscreen text notes that the filmmakers contacted McInnes and that he denied that he had done such a thing.)
But Southern is clearly proud of her image, and of the spot in the white supremacist landscape she’s cultivated. “There’s a lot of clicks in being contrarian,” she says early on. It’s only later that the cracks her facade start to show up.
In a sense, the Borat movies are about a grifter, too, though trying to parse whether Borat or Baron Cohen is the true con artist is the kind of thought experiment that will tie your gray matter in knots. But Bakalova’s performance adds another layer to Baron Cohen’s practical-joking style of comedy. There’s an unselfconsciousness to the men who drool over her, an ego that suggests this woman might actually be into them, coupled with a gleeful cultural mandate to “appreciate” a woman verbally, salaciously, and not cater to a culture that asks them to refrain and treat her with respect.
Unless I missed it, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm never tips into baiting men into decrying the Me Too movement outright. But it’s clear what the filmmakers are implying: In America, those who idolize a certain kind of female aesthetic and feel free to ogle are laughably easy to exploit, whether by grifters, or spies, or social climbers, or just screwball comedians. And if Bakalova, playing a teenager with a mediocre dye job and some lopsided lipstick, can lead various men to embarrassing acts even when they know a camera is around — including an adviser to the president of the United States — that’s a pretty damning thing to capture on moviefilm.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is streaming on Amazon Prime. White Noise is available to digitally rent on platforms including Apple TV and Google Play; see the website for details.
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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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The United States is in the middle of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes. It’s essential that all Americans are able to access clear, concise information on what the outcome of the election could mean for their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. That is our mission at Vox. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone understand this presidential election: Contribute today from as little as $3.
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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