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Afghan gov’t refuses to release “dangerous” Taliban prisoners

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(Last Updated On: June 19, 2020)

The Afghan government has refused to release the Taliban prisoners who are accused of involvement in deadly attacks, a released demand by the Taliban as a pre-condition to starting the intra-Afghan negotiations, Reuters reported citing five sources.

Based on five European, Asian and Afghan officials Reuters reported that the Afghan government had opposed the release of hundreds of Taliban prisoners and now western powers are backing the government’s refusal.

These prisoners are accused of involvement in large-scale terrorist attacks including the 2017 car bomb attack at the Zanbaq square, the report said.

Meanwhile, the NATO Secretary-General said that the release of prisoners is a part of the US-Taliban agreement and a precondition for the start of negotiations, and NATO expects progress to be made in this area.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: “One part of this agreement, the US-Taliban agreement is… the release of prisoners on both sides. That’s part of the agreement. That’s the way to create the conditions for intra-Afghan negotiations. And I’m absolutely certain that the only way to reach a political, sustainable, peaceful solution to the conflict in Afghanistan is to have an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. Therefore, intra-Afghan negotiations are so important.”

Meanwhile, the Taliban has set the release of the remaining 2,000 prisoners as a precondition for the start of intra-Afghan talks.

“It will certainly not be possible to start Intra-Afghan talks in Afghanistan unless 2,000 prisoners are released from prison,” said Jalaluddin Shinwari, the Taliban’s attorney general.

Hurdles on the way of prisoner release are said to be unsolved. Reuters has said that if the obstacles to the release of prisoners are removed, the ground will be prepared for the start of negotiations.

The Office of the National Security Council says that the release of Taliban prisoners is based on the President’s decree, taking into account the age, health status, and time of detention and that prisoners are not subject to the release process under any other circumstances.

So far, more than 3,000 Taliban prisoners have been released. In the new phase, hundreds of other Taliban prisoners were released in the following days. Intra-Afghan Talks are said to begin by the end of this month, with the release of 5,000 prisoners.

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Blinken discusses situation with Abdullah, reiterates US’s support

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(Last Updated On: August 5, 2021)

Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State spoke on the phone Thursday with Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), and reiterated Washington’s commitment to seek a just and durable political settlement that ends the war in Afghanistan.

“They discussed ways to accelerate peace negotiations and achieve a political settlement that is inclusive, respects the rights of all Afghans, including women and minorities, allows the Afghan people to have a say in choosing their leaders, and prevents Afghan soil from being used to threaten the United States and its allies and partners,” the US State Department said in a statement.

“Both leaders deplored continuing Taliban attacks, loss of innocent Afghan lives and displacement of the civilian population, and underscored the widespread international condemnation of these attacks,” read the statement.

State Department spokesperson, Ned Price said later that Blinken and Abdullah pledged to remain in close contact going forward.

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Taliban looking to seize control of at least one province: Dostum

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(Last Updated On: August 5, 2021)

Former first vice president, Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum said on Thursday that Taliban have accelerated their efforts to seize control of at least one province in the country.

According to Dostum, Herat, Takhar, Jawzjan, Kandahar, and Helmand are the provinces of choice that the Taliban is hoping to have control over.

However, security forces and uprising forces have repelled attacks on these provinces, he said adding however, that the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating.

“Enemy is attempting to seize [total control] of one of the five provinces, Jawzjan, Herat, Helmand, Takhar, or Kandahar,” said Dostum.

He said he has held consultations with politicians in Kabul and will soon launch an operation against the Taliban in northern Afghanistan.

“The current situation calls for a meeting and measures need to be taken. It is not a small plot, but needs a plan [that’s agreed to] with other politicians,” said Dostum.

Dostum welcomed the establishment and actions around the uprising forces who are supporting the security forces against the Taliban, and said these civilian fighters are voluntarily making huge sacrifices in the north of Afghanistan.

“The uprising forces resisted[attacks]; I have said many times that it is not the time to seek privileges. We should trust each other,” said Dostum.

Dostum is a controversial figure in Afghanistan but is seen by many as a capable and fierce military leader who regularly leads troops into battle.

Aged 67, Dostum is from Jawzjan province and is regarded in some circles to be both one of the most powerful and most notorious warlords in the country.

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Ghani meets with Iran’s president-elect ahead of inauguration

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(Last Updated On: August 5, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani met with Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, President-elect of Iran, in Tehran early Thursday, the Presidential Palace (ARG) said in a statement.

The meeting was also attended by Second Vice President Sarwar Danish, Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar and a number of other high-ranking Afghan government officials.

During the meeting, both sides discussed the expansion of cooperation and relations between the two countries.

The President-elect of Iran stressed the continued support for the Government of Afghanistan and the efforts for a regional consensus for peace.

He also expressed his support for the people of Afghanistan to preserve the republic and its past achievements.

“We support a system in which the rights of all Afghan citizens, including minorities, are protected, and our neighbors, especially Afghanistan, have a high position in our foreign policy,” Raisi said.

In turn, Ghani thanked Iran for its assistance and cooperation in various fields and stressed the need for joint economic cooperation and the expansion of relations between the two countries.

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