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Abdullah calls for dialogue and decisions, not speeches, at Istanbul summit



(Last Updated On: March 25, 2021)

Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), said this week he hopes “tangible progress” will be made towards a peace settlement at the Istanbul meeting scheduled for April.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview, Abdullah said the presence of decision-makers expected to attend the meeting needs to be utilized to push accelerate the settlement of issues in Afghanistan.

“There have been a lot of discussions between both sides in the past few months in Doha. The Doha process will continue and then we have the Istanbul meeting. The Istanbul meeting will be held at a high level.

“There will be top leaders of Afghanistan and Taliban — that’s how it is anticipated,” Abdullah said.

He also urged that the Istanbul opportunity should not be used to give speeches; instead, it should focus on working for “tangible progress.”

“The final, final, final agreement, of course, it takes time, but we should at least agree on few principles. And an agreement on a cease-fire will be very, very important,” Abdullah added.

Anadolu reported that Abdullah emphasized that it was time to go beyond the US – Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February last year that stipulates the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan by May 1. He sought to cut a deal directly between the Afghan government and the Taliban, reported Anadolu.

He said the Taliban’s readiness to move ahead would be tested in the coming days, underlining that Afghan government is ready to have direct agreements.

“Eventually, it has to be a comprehensive agreement between us, there is something between the US and the Taliban, but eventually, we need to agree. The readiness of the Taliban remains to be seen. It will be tested before the meeting in Turkey,” said Abdullah.

Asked about a possible offensive the Taliban might launch if the US fails to fulfill its obligations, Abdullah said the Afghan sides should not be dependent on the US and should work together to end the presence of foreign troops in the country.

“That [Taliban’s threat to resume hostilities] is unfortunate because eventually, we should sort out this among ourselves. We should find a solution, which will work for both sides. And if there is peace, then there is no need for the presence of the international troops,” he told Andadolu.

“In a peaceful Afghanistan, why do we need international troops? If this is the aim of the Taliban, that there shouldn’t be foreign troops in Afghanistan, the way to achieve it is to work together as Afghans and prepare the ground for that. That is my message,” Abdullah said.

He said that the US would maintain its course regarding Afghanistan’s peace process under the new Biden administration.

“On the support of the peace process, the US policy is the same. They support the peace process. And also, they want to see military arrangements, if not tomorrow, then someday in the near future. They also need to respond to the urgency of the need for peace. It’s more urgent for the people of Afghanistan to achieve peace because of the suffering of the people. Should this be the case, they will continue their efforts, enhance their activities with the countries in the region. They want the UN to be involved in it, and we will continue to work together with them,” said Abdullah.

He admitted that the Afghan government has a different view on some points, including the idea of an interim government, which has been made clear to Washington.

He told Andadolu that the Afghan government favors the signing of an agreement with the Taliban ahead of conducting elections. He described this as a “principled position.”

“It is very premature to talk about it [interim government]. These issues have been raised and are also part of that paper that was shared with us by the Americans. We responded to that,” he said.

Abdullah said the Taliban has not yet responded to the US State Department’s letter on the issue of an interim government but said Afghanistan had pointed out weaknesses and raised concerns about various aspects of the letter.

“We said it helps if we could agree on some arrangements before going to the election with the Taliban. If the Taliban wants to go directly to election, get to an agreement and then have elections, that is also not impossible. As long as we can get an agreement,” he said.

About the meeting conducted in Moscow on March 18 and 19, Abdullah said the parties used the opportunity to exchange views on different points informally to better understand each other’s positions and concerns, Anadolu reported.

He stated the Taliban entered Russia using the Afghan passports issued by the Afghan embassy in Qatar for the members of the negotiating team.

“The Taliban talked about their own views, and we talked about ours. And we had an opportunity to get together. It was not a negotiation but, in a sense, that both sides are at the same place, so why not get together, to express a few things in the sort of informal way,” he said.

Abdullah said the statement adopted at the end of the meeting could be assessed as “good”, saying it meets the Afghan people’s expectations.

“The parties should have used the opportunity, which was there. Especially when the whole world, the people of Afghanistan are demanding us to get to a cease-fire and a comprehensive peace settlement,” he told Anadolu.

He noted that the countries that participated in the extended “Troika” comprising Russia, China, the US, and Pakistan asked what the people of Afghanistan are demanding.

“The message for both sides was very clear. I think it will help. But that depends again on both sides,” Abdullah said.

Turkey Summit

In a separate report by Anadolu, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said this week that the Istabul summit next month is not meant to replace the Doha talks..

This comes after he met with Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, in Brussels on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting this week.

Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that he and his US counterpart will discuss the date for the summit with all parties concerned.

Earlier this week, President Ashraf Ghani said he would attend the summit if the Taliban’s leader Hibatullah Akhundzada also attends the event.

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Daesh claims responsibility for mosque attack in Kandahar



(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

Islamic State (Daesh) claimed responsibility for a suicide bomber attack at a Shi’ite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar which left dozens killed and injured, a statement posted by the group’s Amaq news agency said on Friday.

The statement added that two Daesh fighters shot the guards of the mosque dead, broke in and blew themselves up between two groups of worshippers, one of which consisted of around 300 people.

It was the second week in a row that Daesh militants bombed Friday prayers and killed dozens of worshippers.

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Muttaqi calls on international community to recognize IEA government



(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Foreign acting Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi accused the international community on Friday (October 15) of “violating the rights of Afghan people” by not recognizing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government.

Speaking to Reuters on the second day of a two-day visit to Turkey’s capital of Ankara, Muttaqi said he discussed the recognition of the IEA’s government with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as well.

“The fact that all of them are recognized and the new Islamic government of Afghanistan is not recognized is an injustice and oppression of the Afghan people… Afghanistan wants positive relations with the world and the world must respond positively to this message,” he said.

Almost two months after the former Western-backed government collapsed and IEA forces swept into Kabul, the IEA administration has pushed to build relations with other countries to help stave off a catastrophic economic crisis.

But the IEA has so far refused to give ground on allowing girls to return to high school, one of the key demands of the international community after a decision last month that schools above the sixth grade would only reopen for boys.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday he had conveyed Turkey’s recommendations regarding the inclusion of women in the workforce and education of girls.
Meanwhile, Cavusoglu reiterated the importance of government inclusiveness for Afghanistan’s unity.

“We once again explained the importance of including people from all ethnic and religious groups, besides the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan), in the administration. Especially in these difficult times, this is important in terms of establishing unity and solidarity within the country,” Cavusoglu said.

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Kabul after Western countries withdrew following the fall of the U.S.-backed Afghan government and have urged those countries to increase engagement.

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Blast targets mosque in Kandahar



(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

A large explosion ripped through a mosque in the southern Kandahar province on Friday afternoon.

The blast happened at the Shi’ite Fatimiya mosque during Friday prayers, causing heavy casualties.

Sources said at least 34 people were killed and 69 others wounded in the explosion. Afghan officials have not confirmed the casualties so far.

Qari Saeed Khosti, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, has told Reuters that authorities were collecting details of the explosion.

The blast took place days after a suicide bomb attack claimed by Islamic State on a Shi’ite mosque in the northern city of Kunduz that killed and wounded more than 200 people.

So far, no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The blast, coming so soon after the Kunduz attack underlined the increasingly uncertain security in Afghanistan as the Islamic State has stepped up operations following the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan victory over the Western-backed government in Kabul in August.

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