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Afghan president addresses nation as Taliban close in on Kabul

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday made his first public remarks since the Taliban captured over half of the country's provincial capitals, saying that he's focusing on preventing "instability, violence and the displacement of people."

State of play: In a televised speech, Ghani gave no hints that he would resign, despite being under pressure from Afghan officials who want a transitional government headed by someone who can negotiate with the Taliban to prevent their takeover of Kabul, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • The removal of Ghani has been a demand by the Taliban as negotiations between Afghanistan, the Taliban, the United States and other nations continue in Qatar, the Journal notes.
  • Ghani is losing control of the country, ruling only Kabul and a few other cities, per The New York Times.

The big picture: Less than three weeks before the United States finishes its troop withdrawal, the Taliban has captured 19 provincial capitals, per AP, including the province of Logar, which is just miles south from Kabul.

  • The group also captured Sharana, the capital of the Paktika province, which borders Pakistan.

What he's saying: "I will try not to allow the imposed war to cause more casualties of innocent Afghan people, to lose the 20 year-gains, to cause destruction of public property and to bring an enduring instability," Ghani said.

  • "For this reason, I have begun extensive and continued consultations within the system with political leaders, representatives of different groups in Afghanistan and international partners," he added.
  • "Consultations in this regard are swiftly going on and their results will be shared with you, my beloved compatriots, very soon."

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