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Khalilzad: Prisoners’ exchange is part of the US-Taliban agreement

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(Last Updated On: March 5, 2020)

Zalmay Khalilzad insisted that exchanging prisoners was a part of the US-Taliban deal, and Washington would try to remove every hurdle on the way to the Intra-Afghan talks; however, the presidential palace underlines that the release of the Taliban prisoners before the Intra-Afghan talks is not feasible.

The US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation is meeting Afghan leaders in Kabul. Khalilzad called the continuation of the violence a boundary against peace. Through tweets, Khalilzad talked about the US commitment to easing up the peace talks.

Khalilzad tweeted, “The US is committed to facilitating prisoner exchange, agreed in both US-Taliban Agreement & US-Afghanistan Joint Declaration. We will support each side to release significant numbers.”

In another tweet, he said, “We must act on all fronts to clear the road of obstacles that slows down our progress toward intra-Afghan negotiations. I once again call on all Afghans to rise to the occasion, put country first and not to lose this historic opportunity.”

The Presidential Palace, however, has a different viewpoint.

Latif Mahmoud, the deputy spokesperson of the Presidential Palace said, “People expect the Taliban to leave killing and start negotiations with the government. Releasing prisoners will be a part of the agenda of the Intra-Afghan talks.”

This comes as the Wall Street Journal, based on a source at Arg, wrote that President Ghani refused to meet Khalilzad on Wednesday. This was rejected by Mahmoud though.

Noorullah Jalili, leader of Hezb-e-Madarwatan, said, “Both the laterals should use this opportunity and release the prisoners.”

Khalilzad has met Abdullah Abdullah, Hamid Karzai, and other political figures, lately.

Sources in the office of CE indicate that Abdullah Abdullah agreed on releasing the Taliban prisoners.

Omid Maisam, Abdulah’s deputy spokesperson said, “In this meeting, both the laterals talked over peace and the election’s crisis. Khalilzad applauded Abdullah for his goodwill on peace.”

Based on the US-Taliban agreement, the Intra-Afghan talks is supposed to start in five days, however, President Ghani not only disagreed with releasing 5000 prisoners of the Taliban but also hasn’t reached to an agreement with the political figures to form the negotiating delegation.

COVID-19

Afghanistan Coronavirus updates: 34,194 cases, 971 deaths

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has jumped to 34,194 with 971 deaths in Afghanistan.

According to daily Coronavirus, updates released the Public Health Ministry, 286 new Coronavirus cases have been registered in the past 24 hours.

The cases were recorded in Kabul 83, Herat 81, Balkh 9, Nangarhar 1, Bamyan 30, Takhar 5, Baghlan 3, Badghis 30, Logar 2, Kunduz 5, Parwan 2, Diakundi 16, Wardak 3, Laghman 1, Panjsher 2, and Ghor 13.

Meanwhile, 12 COVID-19 patients have died in the past 24 hours. The death cases were reported as follows: Kabul (10), Herat (2), Maidan Wardak (1), and Takhar (1).

The Health Ministry said that 41 patients have been discharged from hospitals in the past 24 hours, bringing the total recoveries to 20,882 in the country.

It comes that World Bank has approved a $200 million grant to help Afghanistan mitigate COVID-19 impacts and provide relief to vulnerable people and businesses.

The World Bank said that the Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant comprises $100 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and $100 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors.

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Afghan forces push back Taliban attacks – Ghazni

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

The Afghan forces have pushed back Taliban attacks in central Ghazni province, the Defense Ministry (MoD) said.

In a statement released on Friday, the MoD said the militants have carried out attacks in Shalez and Asheqwal areas in the center of Ghazni province on Thursday that faced resistance by the Afghan security and defense forces.

According to the statement, the Afghan forces pushed back the attacks, killing eight Taliban militants and wounding three more.

The Defense Ministry did not provide details of the casualty of the Afghan forces.

The Taliban militant group yet to comment about the incident.

It comes as the Taliban apparently has intensified attacks in a number of provinces which shows a clash to the Doha agreement to bring peace in Afghanistan.

Two days ago the group carried out a car bomb suicide attack in Kandahar’s Shah Wali Kut district which result in the killing of two policemen and wounding of 15 more. In Ghazni, the Taliban target police commander of Deh Yak district as well.

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World Bank provides $200 million for Afghanistan to protect people, support businesses amid COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on Thursday approved a $200 million grant to help Afghanistan mitigate COVID-19 impacts and provide relief to vulnerable people and businesses.

In a statement released on Thursday, the World Bank said that the Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant comprises $100 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and $100 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors.

The Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant will support the government of Afghanistan to strengthen policies that promote faster recovery and keep basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, and telecommunications afloat and running, the statement said.

“The program will provide vital fiscal resources to manage the impacts of the pandemic in the context of rapidly slowing economic growth and declining government revenues,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.

“Policy actions supported by the program will both help mitigate the impacts of the current crisis on the poor and vulnerable and also lay critical foundations for longer-term recovery. The World Bank will continue to stand with the people of Afghanistan through this crisis,” Kerali added.

The World Bank said that the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant adverse health, social, and economic impacts in Afghanistan, shrinking the economy and driving down public revenue.

“The grant will support changes in regulations to increase access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, protect healthcare workers, and raise awareness on gender-based violence in schools,” it stated.

The organization added that it will also support plans to encourage students to return to school when educational institutions are to reopen after the COVID-19 crisis.

It comes as the number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 33,908 with 957 and 20,847 recoveries in Afghanistan.

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