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Khalilzad in Kabul to remove obstacles ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations

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(Last Updated On: August 1, 2020)

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad visited Kabul on July 29 and discussed the ongoing efforts to resolve the remaining issues ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations with the Afghan leaders.

In a statement released on Thursday, the US Embassy in Kabul said that Khalilzad met with President Ashraf Ghani, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, former President Hamid Karzai and other officials.

“He discussed ongoing efforts to resolve the remaining issues ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations, including the need to keep violence down by all sides after the historic Eid al-Adha ceasefire and the final prisoner releases,” the statement said. 

Khalilzad underscored the need to stop the bloodshed and seize this historic opportunity for peace. 

“Ambassador Khalilzad also provided updates on regional and international efforts in support of intra-Afghan negotiations,” the statement concluded.

It comes as Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said on Thursday the group has released 82 prisoners of the Afghan government from its captivity.

Shaheen noted that it has completed the process of releasing Afghan government prisoners, reaching a total released of 1000 inmates.

On Wednesday, Shaheen called on the Afghan government to reciprocate by releasing the remainder of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners, as per the US-Taliban agreement signed earlier this year in Doha.

The group has also declared a three-day ceasefire over Eid al-Adha and ordered its not to carry out any attacks against the Afghan forces.

In a statement on Twitter, the group said fighters have been ordered not to conduct any attacks on Afghan security forces unless in retaliation for attacks against them. 

“The ceasefire will be conducted for Afghan people to enjoy a prosperous and peaceful Eid,” the statement read. 

Meanwhile, Bahador Aminian, Iranian Ambassador to Kabul said that his country has also spoken with the Afghan government and the Taliban so that the two sides remove their disputes to pave the way for the intra-Afghan negotiations.

“The Afghan government officials should be united in order to achieve peace and we have pushed for putting aside their differences over the republic political system, and Iran has called on both sides to end the violence,” Bahador told Ariana News.

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Wolesi Jirga votes in favor of six ministers and head of NDS

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2020)

The Lower House of Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) Monday voted in favor of six nominated ministers and Head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) but rejected two nominees proposed by the government.

The MPs voted for eight nominated ministers and NDS Chief during a general session of Parliament.

Ahmad Zia Saraj received 220 votes of confidence as Head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi got 189 votes as Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock, Mahmud Karzai got 154 votes of confidence for the position of the Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Haroon Chakhansuri secured 154 votes as Minister of Mines and Petroleum, Qudratullah Zaki secured 165 votes as Minister of Transport, Noor Rahman Akhlaqi secured 176 votes as Minister of Refugees and Repatriation, and Najibullah Yamin got 149 votes of confidence for the position of Public Works Minister.

Meanwhile, two nominated ministers – Tahir Zahir for Minister of Information and Culture received 78 votes, and Hasina Safi got 144 out of 244 votes – failing to receive a vote of confidence by the MPs.

Parliament urged the government to introduce other nominees for the two ministries.

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Mastermind behind deadly ANDSF base attack in Ghazni killed

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2020)

The Afghan Ministry of Defense said Monday that the mastermind behind Sunday’s attack on an ANDSF base in Dah-Yak in Ghazni province was killed in an airstrike in the Giro district.

“Hamza Waziristani, the mastermind behind the attack on ANDSF base in Ghazni province was killed along with seven others in an airstrike in Giro district on Sunday night,” the MoD said in a statement.

According to the statement, during the strike a large amount of weapons and ammunition were also destroyed.

No more details were provided by the ministry.

This comes after a Humvee full of explosives was detonated close to a public protection unit in PD3 of Ghazni city.

Ghazni governor’s spokesman Wahidullah Jumazadah said that at least 10 soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded in the bombing.

According to him, no civilians were injured in the incident.

But health officials reported that at least 21 security force members have been killed and 17 others wounded.

Meanwhile, citing public health department officials from Ghazni, CNN reported Monday that at least 40 Afghan soldiers had been killed.

Health officials also said the blast targeted a compound of the public protection force, a wing of the Afghan security forces, which damaged civilian residences around the compound. They said there could be more casualties from there.

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Sweet rewards for Nangarhar’s beekeepers

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2020)

Nangarhar beekeepers have so far this year produced about 500 tons of honey, making it the province with the highest yield across the country.

With its favorable climate, where temperatures seldom drop below freezing, about 600 Nangarhar honey farmers have in total between 35,000 and 40,000 bee colonies collectively.

Not only does this sector produce about 500 tons of honey a year currently but it also provides job opportunities to around 2,000 people.

Nangarhar agriculture department officials say between 22 and 30 different types of bees are used to produce honey in the province.

Honey farming has become increasingly popular in the province over the past few years and beekeepers say the sweet treat helps provide them with a fairly decent wage which covers their basic needs.

One kilogram of Nangarhar honey sells on local markets for between 250 and 500 Afghanis – but it’s also sold in other provinces around the country.

In a bid to support and boost the sector, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAIL) has established the Association of Honey Producers, which aims to connect industry stakeholders including government, institutions, beekeepers and other supply chain entities.

The association also aims to help beekeepers increase production so as to further develop the sector.

According to officials of the Nangarhar Honey Producers Association, the province’s honey is sold in different provinces of the country, and currently there are active representatives in Helmand, Balkh, Kabul and Herat provinces.

The Association of Honey Producers of Nangarhar Province has also created five honey processing plants in the province.

Apart from Nangarhar, other honey producing provinces include Badakhshan, Takhar, Balkh, Helmand, Panjshir, Parwan, Kapisa, Ghazni and Herat provinces.

Mountainous areas, with clean air, covered with natural plants and flowers, are considered suitable places for beekeepers and honey farmers.

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