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Australian FM meets with Ghani and Abdullah in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: May 10, 2021)

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has paid an unannounced visit to Kabul where she met with President Ashraf Ghani and High Council for National Reconciliation Chairman Abdullah Abdullah.

In a statement issued by Australia’s foreign office, Payne said she discussed the challenges of COVID-19, the foreign troop withdrawal, support for a stable and secure Afghanistan, and the shared hopes for ongoing peace talks.

“I was also pleased to meet with the Minister for Women’s Affairs, Hasina Safi, who joined our meeting, and to discuss how Australia and Afghanistan have worked together to support and improve the rights of women and girls – a development we want to see maintained,” she said.

Payne also stated that in her meeting with Abdullah, they discussed the gains made by the people of Afghanistan over the past 20 years, the development and humanitarian assistance provided by Australia and her country’s enduring shared commitment to a sustainable peace that is genuinely inclusive and involves all of Afghan society.

“During these meetings, we discussed the sacrifices made by the Afghan people, as well as those international military forces killed or wounded, including those Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice and the many who still bear the impacts of their service in Afghanistan both physical and mental.

“We discussed the recent Inspector-General report, Australia’s robust response, and the establishment of the Office of the Special Investigator,” she said.

Payne also stated she had met with the Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, to discuss the withdrawal plans.

“I was also proud to spend time with Australian Embassy staff and Defence Force personnel to acknowledge their significant contributions to the Australia-Afghanistan relationship,” she said.

In conclusion, Payne stated: “With the departure of the Australian Defence Force, the Australia-Afghanistan relationship is beginning a new chapter of our diplomatic relationship, established in 1969.

“We will continue our close friendship, and support our shared aspiration of peace, stability and prosperity. We will continue our development assistance program to work to preserve the significant gains made by the Afghan people, in particular advancing the rights of women and girls.”

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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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