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Khalilzad claims Iran not entirely supportive of peace process

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: October 15, 2020)

American peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said efforts are being made to establish an international support group for the Afghan peace process and that hopefully, this group will be able to encourage Iran to support the peace process. 

Speaking to Andrew Wilder, vice president of the Asia center of the US Institute of Peace, during a Pearson Institute webinar, Khalilzad said the US is involved in discussions with the Afghans, neighboring countries and other countries “to establish an international support group for peace in Afghanistan because there is an internal dimension to the conflict in Afghanistan and [also] a regional and international dimension to it.” 

“I hope we will have the announcement of an international support group that could meet relatively soon,” he said. 

Khalilzad stated that many countries in the region realize the benefits of having a peaceful Afghanistan – especially in terms of investment and trade, which includes Pakistan that “sees an opening to Central Asia” through Afghanistan. 

In line with this, the US is seeking to forge an agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan to ensure neither country will provide havens to terrorist groups. 

With regards to Afghanistan’s western neighbor, Iran, he said “there are two Irans; the foreign ministry Iran which says positive things and makes statements that could be construed as supporting the peace process,” but then there is the other Iran that would like to “keep the US entangled in a war.”  

Iran “appears to want the war to go on rather than for the peace process to succeed,” he said adding that “we would like Iran … to participate in the regional efforts in support of peace.” 

Referring to the proposed support group, he said such a body would hopefully be able to encourage Iran “to be supportive of peace efforts”. 

“The current situation is a mixed one,” he noted. 

On the current high levels of violence in the country, Khalilzad said there had been significant fighting in the “countryside” and “we are discussing with both sides, with the Taliban, to reduce the attacks.”

He stated that both the Afghan side and the Taliban are involved in the violence but said it is not only the Taliban involved in attacks but other groups are also playing a part. 

One group was mentioned, which he said was ISIS but he added that “there are also neighbors that are not being entirely helpful.” However, he did not name the country.

Efforts were meanwhile being made to reduce attacks as continued high levels of violence could undermine the people’s faith in the peace process, he said. 

On questions raised over the Taliban’s commitment to the negotiations and peace process and how to counter the perception that the Taliban thinks it has already won, Khalilzad said the Taliban appears serious about the process and has sent a high-ranking team, mostly from its leadership, to negotiate. 

“They have a strategy, a plan on how to negotiate,” he said adding that there were some differences of opinions within the Taliban’s team with regard to what type of settlement should be reached.  

He stated that the US has however reached an agreement with the Afghan government on an end-state to the negotiations and are working ”together, to cooperate, to get to that end-state during the negotiations.” 

Many countries, including the United Nations Security Council, have said the return of an Islamic Emirate is not acceptable, many neighboring countries and allies are saying the same, he said. 

The Taliban however would like to be accepted as a legitimate player, he noted adding that this could not happen if they refuse to accept a “reduction in violence if they don’t observe basic human rights.”

He said the Taliban has been told: “what they decide with other Afghans will determine what we [the US] do in relation to them.”

Khalilzad stated the peace process has its challenges – pointing out it has been 40 years of war and there has been “a lot of mistrust among Afghans,” and distrust between the US and the Taliban – which are all understandable, he said. 

Questioned on what an actual end-state entails, Khalilzad said the US has stated it wants to see a united, sovereign Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and one that has a representative government that is broadly acceptable to the Afghan people – also that the gains of the past 19 years are preserved. 



Qureshi warns against peace ‘spoilers’ during Hekmatyar meeting

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: October 20, 2020)

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reportedly cautioned Hizb-e Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar on Monday against “spoilers” in the Afghan peace process and emphasized the importance of being vigilant.

Hekmatyar arrived in Pakistan on Monday as part of ongoing efforts by Afghan officials and politicians to push for peace in the country. 

According to a statement issued by Qureshi’s office, he reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to further strengthen “the close fraternal relations between the two countries.”

“The Foreign Minister stressed the importance of an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. 

“The Foreign Minister underscored that all parties must honor their respective commitments and work for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire. The Afghan leaders must seize this historic opportunity to achieve durable and sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

“The Foreign Minister also underlined the importance of exercising vigilance and guarding against the role of ‘spoilers’, both within and outside,” read the statement.

Qureshi also brought up the issue of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan and said it was important to make their return as part of the peace process. 

Hekmatyar is on a three-day visit to Pakistan and will meet with other high-ranking officials. 

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Abdullah meets Rouhani to discuss Afghan Peace Process

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: October 20, 2020)

Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah on Monday met with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in his ongoing efforts to garner support from regional countries for the Afghan peace process. 

After his meeting with Rouhani, Abdullah said: “We exchanged views on  Afghan Peace Process, talks in Doha and bilateral relations.

“I thanked His Excellency and Islamic Republic of Iran for their principled and continued support to Afghanistan and the peace process.”

He also said Iran, as a neighbor, can play an important role to help advance the peace process in Afghanistan.

Speaking to Iran’s IRNA news, Abdullah said the people of Afghanistan want a lasting and acceptable peace for all Afghans, as well as the preservation of the achievements made over the past 19 years.

He also said cooperation between regional states can help advance the peace process and negotiations and achieve a successful outcome.

“The voice of the neighboring country is very important to us in consultation at the regional and international level,” he said.


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Global coronavirus caseload crosses the 40 million mark

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: October 19, 2020)

The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide passed the 40 million mark on Monday, according to a Reuters tally. 

Reuters reported that this comes as the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere appears to have fuelled a resurgence in the spread of the disease. 

Experts however believe the true numbers of both cases and deaths are likely much higher, given deficiencies in testing and potential under-reporting by some countries.

The Reuters data shows the pace of the pandemic continues to increase as it took just 32 days to go from 30 million global cases to 40 million, compared with the 38 days it took to get from 20 to 30 million, the 44 days between 10 and 20 million, and the three months it took to reach 10 million cases from when the first cases were reported in Wuhan, China, in early January.

Reuters also reported that record one-day increases in new infections were seen at the end of last week, with global coronavirus cases rising above 400,000 for the first time.

The United States, India, and Brazil remain the worst affected countries in the world. 


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