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Taliban say ‘door is open’ on Trump peace talks

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Taliban say ‘door is open’ on Trump peace talks

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Media captionWhat do the Taliban say to US claims that negotiations are dead?
The Taliban have told the BBC that their “doors are open” should US President Donald Trump want to resume peace talks in the future.Chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai insisted negotiation remained “the only way for peace in Afghanistan” during an exclusive interview.Mr Stanikzai’s words came a week after Mr Trump declared the talks “dead”. Earlier this month, the two sides had appeared close to a deal to end the 18-year conflict.Mr Trump had even invited senior Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to meet at Camp David on 8 September.But a Taliban attack in the Afghan capital Kabul on 6 September, which killed a US soldier and 11 others, prompted Mr Trump to pull out, saying the group “probably don’t have the power to negotiate” if they were unable to agree to a ceasefire during talks.But Mr Stanikzai dismissed Mr Trump’s concerns, telling the BBC the Taliban had done nothing wrong.”They killed thousands of Talibans according to them,” he told the BBC’s chief international correspondent, Lyse Doucet. “But in the meantime, if one [US] soldier has been killed that doesn’t mean they should show that reaction because there is no ceasefire from both sides.””From our side, our doors are open for negotiations,” he added. “So we hope the other side also rethink their decision regarding the negotiation.”What did the deal include?The full and exact details are not known.However, Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s top negotiator, revealed some details of the agreement “in principle” – including the US withdrawing 5,400 troops from Afghanistan within 20 weeks – during a television interview on 3 September.In exchange for the troop withdrawal, the Taliban were willing to pledge that Afghanistan would never again be used as a base for foreign terrorism.Mr Stanikzai told the BBC a ceasefire between the Taliban and foreign troops would have come into effect after the agreement was signed.However, no such ceasefire would have existed between the Taliban and Afghan government forces, he said.

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Media captionPeople in the capital of Helmand province tell the BBC whether they think the Taliban are serious about peace
The Taliban – who are now in control of more territory than at any point before the 2001 US-led invasion – do not recognise the legitimacy of President Ashraf Ghani’s administration. They have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government until a US deal is agreed.Mr Stanikzai said intra-Afghan talks would have started on 23 September, had a deal been reached, and would have included discussions about a wider ceasefire. He also confirmed that the Taliban had approached both Russia and China for help in the peace negotiations.Meanwhile the Afghan national security advisor said that Taliban “intimidation tactics” would not succeed.”The only way they can see peace in Afghanistan is by negotiating with the Afghan government,” Dr Hamdullah Mohibt told the BBC. He added: “Open discussions with our neighbours, those who are sponsoring and supporting the Taliban – that needs to be at the front of our discussions, not the back of it.”What is the security situation in Afghanistan?An average of 74 people were killed every day in the country in August, according to data collected by the BBC.Without a deal, attacks are continuing unabated. Two suicide bombers on Tuesday left at least 48 people dead. Medical staff said children were among the casualties at an election rally targeted by one bomber. President Ghani had been due to speak ahead of elections later this month.Both attacks were claimed by the Taliban.

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A man who was injured in one of two suicide attacks on Tuesday

However, when pressed on the high civilian death toll, Mr Stanikzai blamed “foreign forces”, citing United Nations statistics which show more civilians were killed by Afghan and US forces in the first half of 2019 than by insurgents.He also defended the Taliban for taking shelter in civilian homes, and refused to be drawn on the many direct Taliban attacks which had killed ordinary men, women and children.

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PrettyLittleThing features its first model to wear a hijab

Written by Alaa Elassar, CNNWant more inspiring, positive news? Sign up for The Good Stuff, a newsletter for the good in life. It will brighten your inbox every Saturday morningA Black, Muslim plus-size model is breaking barriers in the fashion industry after being chosen by PrettyLittleThing to model its new line of modest clothing.Billy Marsal,…

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PrettyLittleThing features its first model to wear a hijab

Written by Alaa Elassar, CNN

Want more inspiring, positive news? Sign up for The Good Stuff, a newsletter for the good in life. It will brighten your inbox every Saturday morning

A Black, Muslim plus-size model is breaking barriers in the fashion industry after being chosen by PrettyLittleThing to model its new line of modest clothing.

Billy Marsal, 21, is a London-based influencer who regularly posts photos of herself wearing trendy and modest outfits on Instagram. The online retail giant scouted her on social media shortly after entering the Middle East market.

Marsal’s work with PrettyLittleThing marks the first time the brand has featured a model wearing a hijab or headscarf, the UK-based company confirmed.

“I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until I started getting replies and messages from people who were so excited about it, then I realized, wow, this is amazing,” Marsal told CNN.

“It’s an insane feeling, Yes, I am Black, I am Muslim, I am plus size, but I never thought it would be me to make people feel like this.”

Marsal is new to the world of professional modeling, but is excited to represent young Muslim women and help them find fashionable clothes that uphold their religious values.

“As girls who wear the hijab, we grew up buying clothes and having to alter things to make them modest so for them now to tell Muslim girls, ‘Guys, we’re catering to you, too’ is a very big deal,” she said.

Marsal announced her work with PrettyLittleThing in a tweet on Monday that has since garnered more than 500,000 likes and 60,000 retweets. “Soooo… that’s me. THE FIRST HIJABI ON PLT!!! Still so wild to me,” she said.

PrettyLittleThing, which has collaborated with celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Hailey Baldwin, sells fashion “inspired from the catwalk and the coolest muses of the moment” at affordable prices.

The retailer aims to “inspire confidence” in customers with a message of equality and body positivity, according to its website.

“Following our successful launch into the Middle East we are delighted to be launching our ‘Modest clothing’ collection on site,” PrettyLittleThing said in a news release. “Our ethos of ‘EveryBODYinPLT is extremely important to us, so it’s been amazing seeing such positive customer feedback and working with models who represent all of our customer base.”

In recent years, models wearing a hijab have been featured in New York Fashion Week and Sports Illustrated magazine. But it’s still not common.

Marsal said she’s happy to see the industry change to include more Muslim women, and looks forward to the day when it’s no longer surprising to see a model wearing a hijab.

“I think what’s going to happen is this will one day be so normal it’s not surprising anymore, because competitors are noticing what brands like PrettyLittleThing are doing and it’s going to become the norm,” she said.

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Nebraska man hits jackpot twice in one year

Michael Christiansen of Norfolk, Nebraska, hit the jackpot for a second time this year. Earlier this month, Christiansen won $100,000 after purchasing a 20X The Money Scratch ticket. He collected his winnings on October 15 at the Nebraska Lottery’s office in Lincoln. It was his second trip to the office this year because he won…

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Nebraska man hits jackpot twice in one year

Michael Christiansen of Norfolk, Nebraska, hit the jackpot for a second time this year.

Earlier this month, Christiansen won $100,000 after purchasing a 20X The Money Scratch ticket. He collected his winnings on October 15 at the Nebraska Lottery’s office in Lincoln. It was his second trip to the office this year because he won $50,000 from a Money Clip Scratch ticket in March.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “What are the odds? I didn’t think it was real,” Christiansen said in a press release.

He purchased both winning tickets from Louie’s Liquor in Norfolk.

When asked what he plans to do with the money, Christiansen gave a few ideas. He said he wants to build a new garage and put some of the money away for his retirement.

Christiansen said his daughter recently passed away, and he’s going to try purchase the house she lived in.

The 20X The Money game offers players a chance to win prizes from a free $10 ticket to $100,000. The chances of winning $100,000 are 1 in 80,000, according to the Nebraska Lottery.

In the Money Clip game, the odds of winning the top prize of $50,000 are also 1 in 80,000, according to the lottery.

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World reduced to ‘friends,’ ‘thugs’ and ‘filthy’ countries in Trump-Biden foreign policy debate

That was how Democratic candidate Joe Biden attempted to sum up President Donald Trump’s approach to foreign policy in Thursday’s debate, arguing that Trump cozies up to “thugs” in North Korea, China and Russia, while he “pokes his finger at all our allies.” It was a line that might play well among Biden’s base, but,…

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World reduced to ‘friends,’ ‘thugs’ and ‘filthy’ countries in Trump-Biden foreign policy debate
That was how Democratic candidate Joe Biden attempted to sum up President Donald Trump’s approach to foreign policy in Thursday’s debate, arguing that Trump cozies up to “thugs” in North Korea, China and Russia, while he “pokes his finger at all our allies.”
It was a line that might play well among Biden’s base, but, with its vague allusions to appeasement in the run up to World War II, it was indicative of a debate that had little genuine substance when it came to current foreign policy challenges, with both leaders choosing to use other countries as attack lines more than anything else.

Biden did promise to “get China to play by international laws,” an area where Beijing has arguably benefited from Trump’s America First strategy and suspicion of multilateral organizations. However, he offered little insight into how he would actually go about doing that, especially as China is far stronger both internationally and domestically than it was the last time Biden was in office, beyond working with allies to try and rein Beijing in.

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