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Khalilzad discusses Afghan peace with Indian officials

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(Last Updated On: May 8, 2020)

The US Special Representative Khalilzad met with Indian top officials to underscore their support in the efforts to bringing peace to Afghanistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan reconciliation met with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval Thursday in Delhi and briefed them on progress in the peace process that has faltered in the past few weeks.

Khalilzad, in the meeting, expressed that the US recognizes India’s “constructive contribution” to Afghanistan.

The Indian side expressed deep concern about the increase in violence in Afghanistan, making a particular mention of the need to protect “Afghan Hindus and Sikhs” and India’s support for a ceasefire to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting was also attended by US National Security Council Director Lisa Curtis and U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster.

Following the meeting, a statement was released by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs saying, “The US side recognized India’s constructive contribution in economic development, reconstruction and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. They laid importance to India’s crucial and continuing role in sustainable peace, security, and stability in Afghanistan.”

“EAM and NSA reiterated India’s continued support for strengthening peace, security, unity, democratic and inclusive polity and protection of rights of all sections of the Afghan society, including Afghan Hindus and Sikhs,” the statement added.

Khalilzad is on a 3-city trip to Doha, Delhi, and Islamabad, confirmed by a US State Department press release Wednesday, noting “At each stop, he will urge support for an immediate reduction in violence, accelerated timeline for the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, and cooperation among all sides in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan.

”The aim of the trip is said to be building support for the full implementation of the US-Taliban agreement confronted by differences between the Afghan government and the Taliban – over the release of prisoners.

Reportedly, Khalilzad’s next stop is Islamabad to stress the need for a ceasefire and support in starting the intra-Afghan talks.

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Peace talks teams ‘making progress’ after meeting to discuss contentious issues

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan peace negotiating team said the contact groups from both sides met on Sunday for discussions and that progress was being made. 

The Peace Negotiation Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan issued the same statement on their Twitter page but few details were given. 

The team said on Twitter: “Today evening, the contact groups of both sides met. This session lasted a few hours and the rules and regulations of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations were discussed and progress was made.”

The Afghan peace team said peace talks members held the joint working meeting which lasted several hours and worked on contentious issues of rules and regulations  and that “progress was made in resolving disputes.”

“The procedure for the Afghan peace talks will be finalized soon,” they said. 

The talks, which started a week ago, are still ongoing in Doha, Qatar where the contact group members are reportedly discussing the talking points, agendas and schedules going forward. 

Until now, however, very few details have been released by either side. 

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MoD discovers and defuses over 4,000 IEDs in past six months

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

The Afghan Ministry of Defense said on Sunday the Afghan National Army (ANA) had discovered and defused 4,776 IEDs across the country in the past six months. 

The MoD stated the IEDs had been planted by Taliban on public roads, in residential areas and on highways.

A statement by the MoD said: “While Taliban’s explosive devices inflict heavy casualties on civilians, ANDSF risk their lives to discover and defuse the bombs to protect Afghans.”

“The IEDs, in addition to harming civilians, also destroy Afghanistan’s roads, highways and infrastructure.”

By finding and defusing the IEDs the lives of thousands of civilians were saved and “hundreds of kilometers of roads and hundreds of bridges and culverts were preserved,” the MoD stated. 

The ministry also said that in addition to the indiscriminate use of IEDs being a serious violation of the International Human Rights Law, “unfortunately, the Taliban continue applying it as a war tactic against the Afghan population.”

UNAMA said in July, in its mid-year report, that the use of non-suicide IEDs was the leading cause of civilian casualties by Anti-Government Elements during the first half of 2020, causing 688 civilian casualties (217 killed and 471 injured).

Almost half of all civilian casualties from IEDs – 45 percent – were caused by the Taliban’s widespread use of pressure-plate IEDs, which function as improvised anti-personnel mines.

Civilian casualties from these victim-activated devices increased by 50 percent during the first half of 2020 as compared to the same time period in 2019, reversing the trend of sizeable decreases over the last two years. 

UNAMA also noted that the week after the three-day Eid ceasefire, pressure-plate IEDs rose to the leading cause of civilian casualties.

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Ghani holds security review summit with senior officials in Bamiyan

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

President Ashraf Ghani and a high-ranking delegation of officials held a “mini-summit” on the country’s security in Bamiyan on Sunday.

Also in attendance with First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh, National Security Adviser Hamdullah Moheb and other senior security officials.

After landing at Bamiyan airport, the president and his delegation were met by the provincial governor and local officials, including members of the provincial council.

The Kabul delegation then went into a meeting where they examined the security situation across the country, discussed plans and operations on thwarting enemy threats and dealing with challenges. They also discussed the capabilities of the security and defense sectors.

Officials from the security and defense agencies called for the expansion of governance and the need for improved services at a district level.

Emphasizing the security and defense priorities, Ghani said that serious attention should be paid to protecting the people and to the security of development projects.

He also said reform and development programs of the security and defense agencies should be implemented.

Ghani also ordered increased security along highways so as to prevent enemy groups from extorting money out of motorists and said changes need to be brought in police departments so that all staff criteria is met.

He said that security and defense officials who have excelled in their work need to be commended.

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