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Afghan leader rejects foreign interference in country’s fate

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s president is urging the nation to determine its fate without foreign interference as the United States and the Taliban appear to near a peace deal without the Afghan government at the table.

President Ashraf Ghani spoke during the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Adha and as U.S. and Taliban negotiators continue their work in the Gulf nation of Qatar.

Ghani insisted on Sunday that next month’s presidential election is essential so that Afghanistan’s leader will have a powerful mandate to decide the country’s future after years of war.

Meanwhile, the lead U.S. negotiator has sought a peace deal by Sept. 1. It is expected to agree on the withdrawal of some 20,000 U.S. and NATO troops and secure Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan would not be a base for other extremist groups.

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