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Afghan government’s agenda for Intra-Afghan negotiations still unclear

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(Last Updated On: June 15, 2020)

Although the government has said that it has prepared the agenda, the details of it are not yet known.

Qatar is preparing to host the first round of the Intra-Afghan negotiations, and it will be the first time the Taliban and the government put their demands on the table to end the war.

Qatar, meanwhile, says the Afghan government and the Taliban need to engage in clear negotiations with the agenda to ensure the success of the talks.

Motaliq al-Qahtani, Qatar’s special envoy for Afghanistan said that it is very important to have a clear plan for the agenda of the talks because experience shows that having a clear agenda for the success of the talks between the two sides is very important.

According to Qahtani, the negotiations should start on less controversial issues to get on to a good start and continue. He thinks that the talks will continue for a while.

On the other hand, the National Reconciliation Council, led by Abdullah Abdullah, which is responsible to manage all peace programs, is still reluctant to provide information about the organization and how it works.

“It is important to know what the two sides want and how we can achieve peace,” said Shaida Mohammad Abdali, a former Afghan ambassador to Delhi.

People say that they expect to see peace soon, and politicians should not engage in differences about it.

The time of the Intra-Afghan talks has not yet been determined; however, sources say that the release of prisoners on both sides will end in a week, and will be followed by the talks.

Earlier, representatives of Russia, the United States, and Afghanistan discussed in a video session how Afghanistan’s peace efforts work.

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Dubai reopens to tourism and expects ‘aggressive’ bounce back

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(Last Updated On: July 8, 2020)

Dubai expects an “aggressive bounce back in tourism by the end of the year after the Middle East hub reopened to holiday-makers on Tuesday.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, Helal Al Marri, director-general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “We’re looking forward to seeing aggressive growth coming once things normalize towards the year-end.”

Dubai has spent years transforming itself into a business and tourism hub and attracts millions of visitors a year.

Dubai closed its borders in March and enforced a strict lockdown policy in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. Flights in and out of Kabul were also suspended and for three months no visas were issued for Afghans traveling to Dubai.

However, flights have slowly resumed to a handful of countries over the past month, including Afghanistan.

Discussing the latest move to reopen to tourism, Al Marri said: “We’re definitely in a much better place today, people are much more optimistic, and we’re seeing it as definitely something very positive.”

He said that as other countries get things under control, as things normalize, “we definitely see the other side as being a very quick rebound to tourism.”

“We envisage as we move towards the year-end and as the markets do open up, people are going to start recruiting again, people are going to start to really try to drive that growth because that’s what they’re there for with their businesses,” Al Marri said.

This comes after Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum toured Dubai International Airport on Tuesday and said that the Emirate was ready to welcome the world once again through its international airport.

“I have reviewed the procedures and protocols in place to welcome tourists back to Dubai. What we have seen clearly demonstrates Dubai’s comprehensive preparedness to welcome the world once again and resume international tourism.

“We have implemented the highest international safety standards to ensure the wellbeing of travelers and tourists,” Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement.

However, on Wednesday, Emirates airlines updated its travel advisory and informed passengers from selected countries, who intend to fly into Dubai, that they will be required to carry out a COVID-19 test before departure.

Certificates must be issued no more than 96 hours before departure, the Dubai-based airline said.

“All passengers traveling with Emirates from the countries or airports specified below have to carry a COVID-19 negative certificate issued by a local government approved laboratory to be accepted on the flight.

“Where specified, a certificate from a UAE government-designated laboratory in the country of origin is also acceptable,” Emirates stated.

The countries affected are:

Afghanistan

Bangladesh

Egypt

India

Iran

Pakistan

Philippines

Russian Federation

Tanzania

USA – Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando (MCO), including passengers originating from California, Florida and Texas connecting to an Emirates flight to Dubai.

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Taliban truck bomb kills 2, wounds 15 in Kandahar

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(Last Updated On: July 8, 2020)

At least two police were killed and 15 others wounded in a car bomb explosion in southern Kandahar province, a source confirmed.

A security source on a condition of anonymity told Ariana News that an explosive-laden truck targeted the police headquarters building of Shahwalikot district of the province early Wednesday morning.

The incident took place at around 4 a.m. Wednesday, Shahwalikot residents say that casualties might increase.

Meanwhile, the Taliban militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group further claimed that at least 20 soldiers including the district’s police chief were killed in the blast. 

Separately in Ghazni, the district police chief for Deh Yak, Habibullah, was killed in a roadside mine blast at around 4:30 early Wednesday.

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China, Afghanistan, Pakistan seek ‘orderly’ foreign troop exit

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(Last Updated On: July 8, 2020)

Afghanistan, China, and Pakistan have called for a responsible withdrawal of US-led coalition forces from Afghanistan in order to prevent what they say is a potential “terrorist resurgence” in Afghanistan.

Following the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Vice Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue, Afghan, Chinese and Pakistani foreign ministry officials issued a statement and said the “three sides agreed to continue to strengthen counter-terrorism and security cooperation, combat the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, and all other terrorist forces and networks posing threats to our common security.”

The third round of talks was co-chaired by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab, and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood.

Discussions not only centered on security issues but also on matters around the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the statement, the three sides agreed to further the cooperation against COVID-19, to call on the international community to jointly prevent discrimination and stigma, to support the World Health Organization’s leading role in coordinating global COVID-19 response, to promote international cooperation on joint prevention and control, and to safeguard public health security in the region and beyond.

The statement also indicated that China and Pakistan “appreciated the efforts by the Afghanistan government and relevant parties in expediting the exchange of the (Taliban) prisoners to pave the way for the start of the Intra-Afghan Negotiations and call for violence reduction and humanitarian ceasefire.

“China and Pakistan will enhance cooperation with the Afghan government in support of the Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace reconciliation process, the launch of Intra-Afghan Negotiations at an early date, the preservation of the gains since 2001, and (China and Pakistan) looked forward to the early restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan,” read the statement.

It was also noted that China will continue to play a constructive role in improving Afghanistan-Pakistan relations.

On the issue of troop withdrawal, the three sides “urged for an orderly, responsible and condition-based withdrawal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan to avoid potential terrorist resurgence.”

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