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Gov’t, Taliban conduct first VC over prisoner release

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(Last Updated On: March 23, 2020)

For the first time, the representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban shared views via video conference on how to release the prisoners.

The National Security Council reporting the first call between the government representatives and the Taliban said that they have negotiated with the Taliban over releasing prisoners, violence reduction, Intra-Afghan Talks, and ceasefire over the call.

Jawid Faisal, the spokesperson of NSC, said, “In this video call, both sides talked about reducing violence against Afghans, direct talks and long-lasting ceasefire. The video call lasted for two and a half hours, and the technicality of releasing the prisoners was negotiated.”

However, the political office of the Taliban in Qatar said that only the technicality of the prisoner release was negotiated in the video conference.

Sayed Akbar Agha, a former member of the Taliban, said, “In this call, only the release of the  prisoners was negotiated.”

This comes as Zalmay Khalilzad welcomed these talks in a tweet saying that both the laterals had technical and serious discussions over releasing prisoners.

Khalilzad’s tweet: “The over two-hour technical discussion today was important, serious, and detailed. My thanks to all sides. Everyone clearly understands the coronavirus threat makes prisoner releases that much more urgent.”

This comes as the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement called these talks productive and fruitful saying that the laterals discussed the prisoner release, its list, and place.

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Unprecedented growth in watermelon harvest – Farah

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(Last Updated On: June 2, 2020)

This year, more than 789,000 tons of watermelon will be harvested in Farah province.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock said that the figure is up 6 percent compared to that of last year.

Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock say that this year’s watermelon harvest in Farah province will be 789,400 metric tons. According to the officials, about 19,000 hectares of land have been cultivated  for watermelon in Farah province this year.

Meanwhile, a number of farmers in Farah province are worried about the lack of markets for the watermelon products.

They say that if there is no market, their products will be wasted.

This comes as a number of farmers in the province say that if the government doesn’t support the marketing of watermelon products in this province, their products will be destroyed this year.

Officials in the Chamber of Commerce and Investment have criticized the government, saying that the Ministry of Commerce should have previously marketed domestic products.

According to them, the government’s negligence will discourage farmers from producing crops.

They say South Asian countries are the best market for watermelon, but claim that Pakistan has blocked the export of the product to a number of countries.

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Dr. Ayaz Niazi killed in mosque explosion – Kabul

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(Last Updated On: June 2, 2020)

At least two people – including Mohammad Ayaz Niazi, imam of Wazir Akbar Khan mosque – were killed and three others wounded in a bomb blast inside a mosque in Kabul city, the Interior Ministry confirmed.

Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said that the explosion took place at around 7:25 p.m. in Wazir Akbar Khan mosque while people were gathered for evening prayers.

Mohammad Ayaz Niazi, imam of the mosque also lost his life in the attack, the official added.

All the injured individuals have been taken to hospital.

According to the ministry, police defused another bomb at the attack scene.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Palace condemned the “terror attack,” saying attacks on mosques, hospitals, and other civilian sites are anti-humanitarian act.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

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UN: Taliban have not cut ties with al-Qaeda

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(Last Updated On: June 2, 2020)

According to the latest report by the Security Council of the United Nations, the Taliban have not cut ties with al-Qaeda, even after a peace deal with the United States.

The United Nations has said in a report that al-Qaeda in Afghanistan has been secretly conducting military operations in collusion with the Taliban, and that the group has even held several meetings with al-Qaeda leaders lately to strengthen their ties.

In its latest report, the UN Security Council has revealed the Taliban’s close ties to al-Qaeda, even after a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban. According to the report, al-Qaeda is active in 12 Afghan provinces, with an estimated 400 to 600 military personnel.

The United Nations has said that al-Qaeda leaders have met with the Taliban for more than six times over that last 12 months, and Gul Agha Ishaqzai, a former adviser to Mullah Mohammad Omar, has assured al-Qaeda leaders that the Taliban not will cut ties with al-Qaeda at any cost.

The UN report said, “Al-Qaida and the Taliban held  meetings  over  the course  of  2019  and  in  early  2020  to  discuss  cooperation  related  to  operational, training  and  the  provision  by  the  Taliban  of  safe  havens  for Al-Qaida members  inside Afghanistan. Al-Qaida is covertly active in 12 Afghan provinces. Monitoring Team’s estimate is between 400 and 600 armed operatives.”

“According to interlocutors, al-Zawahiri met with members of the Haqqani Network in February 2020. Hafiz Azizuddin Haqqani (not listed) and Yahya Haqqani (TAi.169)19consulted al-Zawahiri over the agreement with the United States and the peace process,” added the statement.

However, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistan’s peace, has said that the Taliban had pledged to cut their relationships with terrorist groups in exchange for the withdrawal of the US troops.

Khalilzad has said that The United States is monitoring the implementation of the Taliban’s commitment to the peace agreement, and under this agreement the Taliban will in no way host terrorist groups and severe ties with al-Qaeda.

On the other hand, Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member, said that The United Nations wants to hide its failure by saying that the Taliban is linked to al-Qaeda, noting “I don’t think they have any evidence to prove that.”

The Afghan government has also previously spoken of the Taliban’s close ties to ISIS and other terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

The Taliban denied the UN report’s statements regarding the group.

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