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Ghani to meet with Republic’s talks team in Doha but not the Taliban

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(Last Updated On: October 5, 2020)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will meet with the republic’s negotiating team in Doha, Qatar, during his visit but is not expected to meet the Taliban negotiating team. 

Ghani left Kabul early Monday for Kuwait, to attend the funeral ceremony of the late Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, and will then travel on to Doha. 

Speaking to Reuters, a close aide to Ghani said Monday: “Several meetings are planned to discuss efforts for deepening Afghanistan-Qatar ties and mutual cooperation in various areas.”

The aide then said Ghani will also meet the Afghan representatives who are holding talks with the Taliban.

“But it is clear that Ghani will not meet the Taliban officials as there has been no reduction of violence and they continue to kill innocent civilians,” said a senior western diplomat overseeing the ongoing peace process.

This latest development comes amid stalled peace talks between the two sides. Also, last week, US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad flew from Washington to Doha in what is believed to be a bid to restart the first phase of talks. 

This weekend, Khalilzad told NPR that the US “will not walk away” from the war-torn country should the intra-Afghan negotiations fail.

 “We will not make the mistake that was made after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was to abandon Afghanistan. And the consequences were grave for Afghanistan because of the mistakes the Afghan leaders made,” he said. 

He said now was the time for Afghanistan to seize the opportunity to negotiate a roadmap “where groups of different ideas or ideologies, values, can coexist in the same country. 

“And at the same time, there is a lesson for the United States that we cannot abandon Afghanistan. We cannot turn our back.”

He said this did not mean the US necessarily needed to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan nor continue a war just to have a military presence – “but that if the conditions are right, [if] we don’t feel threatened, that we can withdraw our military forces or adjust them accordingly, but maintain focus, relations, economic assistance, political relations, diplomatic relations, to encourage the consolidation of a peace agreement, should it be arrived at by the Afghans.”

He stated the current peace talks situation was a moment for the Afghan leaders not to repeat the mistakes of the past, but instead to build a consensus-based system where all key players can participate, “and perhaps peace in Afghanistan can change the dynamics even regionally.”

 

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Biden to keep Khalilzad as peace envoy for now

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

Former president Donald Trump’s peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad will retain his position, for now, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN. 

This move is not typical as traditionally an incoming administration replaces all politically appointed officials – especially those dealing with foreign policy issues. 

Khalilzad, a diplomatic veteran, has worked on the peace process for more than two years and has been the key official from Washington to meet with both the Afghan government and the Taliban as well as all other stakeholders and regional leaders. 

No further details were released and according to CNN the State Department did not comment when asked about Khalilzad staying on board. 

However, in a statement issued late Friday, the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib that the United States intends to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement.”

He also said Washington would assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.

Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

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Washington to review US-Taliban deal, Sullivan tells Mohib 

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib on Friday evening and said Washington intends to review the US-Taliban deal signed in February last year and to assess whether the Taliban is adhering to its commitments. 

In a statement issued by the White House following the discussion between the two NSAs, Sullivan said the US will support the peace process with “a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent ceasefire”. 

Sullivan also made clear “the United States’ intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement, including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.”

According to the statement, Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

In addition, Sullivan and Mohib discussed the US’s support for protecting the gains made by Afghan women, girls, and minority groups as part of the peace process. 

Sullivan also “committed to consulting closely with the Afghan government, NATO allies, and regional partners regarding a collective strategy to support a stable, sovereign, and secure future for Afghanistan,” the statement read.

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Attacks are against the values of Islam, Atmar tells OIC chief 

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2021)

Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar held talks on Wednesday with Yousef al-Othaimeen, the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Saudi Arabia and discussed the current peace talks being held in Doha, Qatar. 

In a statement, the Jeddah-based organization said discussions were held on the peace process, and on how the OIC can support the talks. 

Al-Othaimeen reiterated the OIC’s commitment to supporting the Afghan people, and development projects in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Atmar praised the OIC for its role in forging unity among Islamic countries in support of the peace process and for issuing special resolutions to form a consensus among Islamic countries to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan. 

At the meeting, Atmar called the war in Afghanistan illegitimate from the point of view of Islam.

“The crimes that are being committed in Afghanistan today are completely incompatible with the beliefs of Muslims and Islamic teachings; Attacks on female judges, killings of Kabul University students and attacks on maternity hospitals are certainly not justifiable in Islam,” he said.

Atmar also stated that if the opposition is truly committed to peace, the Afghan government would not see any obstacles to national reconciliation and the success of the peace process, and would be ready to pave the way for political participation on all sides in accordance with the free will of the Afghan people and internationally accepted standards.

“We want the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to continue its previous demands to end the bloodshed and resolve the political crisis in Afghanistan through holding follow-up meetings, expert consultations and sending special groups to consult with the teams,” he said. 

In response to the Foreign Minister’s remarks, the Secretary-General of the OIC said that he commends and supports the flexible and adaptable position of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan towards peace.

Al-Othaimeen pointed out that killing, violence and intimidation are contrary to the essence of Islam and that people should be made aware that Islam is not a religion of terror and violence, but a religion of unity and convergence. 

He praised the role of religious scholars in this regard, saying that scholars in Islamic societies have an important position not only from a religious point of view but also from a political point of view.

 

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