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Afghan peace talks team expected to leave for Doha in two days

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2020)

The Afghan government’s peace negotiations team is expected to leave Kabul on Wednesday for Doha, Qatar, for the start of intra-Afghan peace talks with the Taliban.

Talks are expected to officially start on Sunday, Afghanistan’s national radio and television service RTA reported.

All members of the group that will travel to Doha, including members of the negotiating team and journalists, had COVID-19 tests done on Monday.

This was in line with international health measures to try to curb the spread of the virus.

Journalists were told they would travel with the team, which will be led by Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai.

Stanekzai and his team are expected to negotiate a comprehensive ceasefire in the first round of talks, a source who is part of the negotiations team told Ariana News adding that the first round of talks is expected to last 15 days.

However, Sayed Mohammad Akbar Agha, a former Taliban leader said Monday that more time was needed to overcome some challenges before talks could begin.

“The Taliban will enter the talks after the release of 400 prisoners, and it is not possible to hold the talks in the limited days; challenges are yet to be removed, and the real representatives of the nation must be included among the delegation, and the Taliban will announce a ceasefire process to build trust,” said Akbar Agha.

Ghulam Farooq Majrooh, a member of the negotiating team meanwhile stated: “The delegation has made all the preparations and we will sit with a specific agenda around the negotiating table with the Taliban; and the other side (the Taliban) should be ready as soon as possible to start the negotiations.”

This latest development comes just a day after the Loya Jirga, or grand council, approved the release of the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners so as to kickstart peace talks.

Pledging to implement the Jirga’s decision, President Ashraf Ghani said on Sunday he will sign the release order of the inmates.

On Monday morning, a source said Ghani would sign the decree later in the day in order to remove the final obstacle in the way of intra-Afghan negotiations.

This development comes after the February deal between the United States and the Taliban in Doha. This agreement called for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the withdrawal of US troops.

So far, there has been a drawdown of US troops, five American military bases have been handed over to the Afghan government and Ghani has released over 4,600 Taliban prisoners.

The last group of 400 prisoners had been a sticking point as the group had been deemed hardcore inmates responsible for some of the country’s worst attacks over the past 19 years.

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Three national snooker team players off to good start in world champs

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2021)

Afghanistan’s National Snooker Team has gotten off to a good start in this year’s Six-Red World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

National team member Raees Khan Sindzai won his first match against his opponent from Ukraine ending with a score of 5-4.

Sindzai also defeated his Iraqi rival 5-4 in his second match and his next game will be against Bahrain.

Saleh Mohammad Mohammadi, another Afghan team member, beat his Egyptian rival 5-0 but lost his second match to his Belgian opponent, 4-5.

His third game will be against Palestine.

The Six-Red World Championships comes just days after the three team members took part in the Asian Snooker Championships, which were also held in Doha.

The tournaments are part of three major billiards and snooker events – including the GCC Billiards and Snooker tournament – organised by the Qatar Billiards and Snooker Federation.

It is the first time a country hosts these three major championships in succession, separated by only a few days.

The competitions started with the Asian championship from September 12 to 16, then the Six-Red World Championship from September 17 to 21. This championship will be followed by the GCC Billiards and Snooker Championship from September 22 to 28.

President of the International Snooker Federation and Executive Director of the Qatar Federation, Mubarak Al Khayarin, described Qatar’s hosting of the World and Asian Championships as a great challenge, especially after stopping nearly two years of activity due to the repercussions of the continuing outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Qatar’s The Peninsula reported.

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Three brothers killed in Paktia in dispute over land

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2021)

Three members of one family were killed and one more wounded in a clash in eastern Paktia province, local officials said Sunday.

According to Islamic Emirate officials, the clash happened between two families in Shakar Khel village in Gardez city, the provincial capital, on Saturday evening.

The incident happened after an argument broke out over a land dispute between the two sides, the officials said.

The officials stated that all the victims were brothers.

Mawlawi Hemat, police chief of Gardez PD1, stated that three members of one family have been arrested in connection with the incident.

He said Islamic Emirate forces are investigating and hope to arrest the other culprits.

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Kabul municipality drawing up service plans, order removal of T-walls

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2021)

The acting head of Kabul municipality on Sunday ordered the removal of the city’s blast walls and said plans are being drawn up to address urban challenges and to provide effective services.

Addressing a press conference in Kabul, Mawlawi Hamdullah Nomani said the removal of barriers and concrete walls is a part of the plan going forward

Mawlawi Nomani said that the construction of high rise buildings and usurpation of land are challenges that will be addressed in future.

“Investigations about buildings and land grabbing, which were [prone to] corruption will be addressed. We will not allow this, people cannot misuse this. We will investigate this when all institutions resume work,” said Mawlawi Nomani.

According to him, the Islamic Emirate will urge donors to complete projects that have stopped in the past month.

“We are in contact with donors of 100 projects that have now stopped. We have not received a positive or negative answer about the fate of the projects,” he said.

Mawlawi Nomani also said that the removal of barriers and concrete blast walls will be completed soon.

“We will remove barriers that spoil the city, most of these were placed by security institutions. We are telling people who erected barriers to remove them, otherwise we will remove them and the people will have to pay municipality expenses,” he said.

Hundreds of thousands of concrete walls, known in Kabul as T-walls, have for years spoilt the look of the city.

Almost everywhere you look in the Afghan capital, you see these tall, thick walls, which range in height from three to seven metres, that surround homes, businesses, schools, embassies and government compounds.

Over the years demand was high and as more walls went up, traffic problems increased as roads were all too often blocked when new walls went up.

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