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Khalilzad wraps up regional trip, highlights need to keep republic intact

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(Last Updated On: May 8, 2021)

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said in a series of tweets he has wrapped up his latest trip – to Tashkent, Doha, Kabul, and Dushanbe – with a stop in Berlin – which was focused on building regional consensus on the Afghan Peace Process.

Khalilzad said there is “a unique international consensus for peace, rooted in the support for a negotiated settlement, an end to violence, and rejection of any attempt to impose a military solution”.

He said: “Afghan leaders from all sides of the conflict should seize this opportunity and negotiate a political settlement to end their 40 yearlong war.”

Khalilzad also stated that “if the Taliban do not choose peace, a future based on consensus and compromise, then we will stand with Afghans who strive to keep the Republic intact. Republic political unity is a must.”

“International consensus does not stop at peace. The world remains steadfast in its support of Afghanistan as the country enters a new phase,” Khalilzad said.

In addition to this, the US State Department also issued a joint communique by the US, the European Union, NATO, Norway and the UK on the Afghan Peace Process.

According to the communique, special envoys and special representatives of the United States of America, European Union, France, Germany, Italy, NATO, Norway, and the United Kingdom met in Berlin on Thursday where they exchanged views on the current status of the Afghanistan peace process and discussed ways to support the Afghan people’s desire for a just and lasting peace.

The participants confirmed that such a peace can only be achieved through an inclusive, negotiated political settlement among Afghans and highlighted the need to accelerate the pace of the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace negotiations and committed to work with the Afghan government and the Taliban, and other Afghan political and civil society leaders to reach a comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement and political compromise that ends the war.

The participants called for the immediate resumption, without pre-conditions, of substantive negotiations on the future of Afghanistan with the aim to develop and negotiate realistic compromise positions on power sharing that can lead to an inclusive and legitimate government and a just and durable settlement.

They also strongly condemned the continued violence in Afghanistan “for which the Taliban are largely responsible” and demanded all parties to take immediate and necessary steps to reduce violence and in particular, to avoid civilian casualties in order to create an environment conducive to reaching a political settlement.

Participants called upon the Taliban to stop their undeclared spring offensive, to refrain from attacks against civilians, and to stop immediately all attacks in the vicinity of hospitals, schools, universities, mosques and other civilian areas.

In particular, participants demanded an immediate end to the campaign of targeted assassinations against civil society leaders, religious scholars, journalists and other media workers, human rights defenders, healthcare personnel, judicial employees and other civilians.

The participants also reiterated that during the withdrawal of foreign troops, the safety of international forces must be ensured and that any Taliban attacks on the troops during this period will be met with a forceful response.

Participants stressed that the process of the troop withdrawal must not serve as an excuse for the Taliban to suspend the peace process and that good-faith political negotiations must proceed in earnest.

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Pentagon offers payment to families of victims of botched drone strike

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

The Pentagon has offered unspecified condolence payments to the family of 10 civilians who were killed in a botched U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan in August in the final days before American troops withdrew from the country.

The U.S. Defense Department said it made a commitment that included offering ex-gratia condolence payments, in addition to working with the U.S. State Department in support of the family members who were interested in relocation to the United States.

The Pentagon had said the strike targeted an Islamic State (Daesh) suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S.-led troops as they completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The intelligence failure raised hard questions about future risks, particularly whether the United States can keep track of threats from Afghanistan without a presence in the country.

The confirmation of civilian deaths provided further fuel to critics of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal, which generated the biggest foreign policy crisis yet for President Joe Biden’s administration.

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NASA probe will study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)
NASA launched a first-of-its kind mission on Saturday to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, two large clusters of space rocks that scientists believe are remnants of primordial material that formed the solar system’s outer planets. Matthew Larotonda reports.
 
NASA launched a new space probe on Saturday (October 16) morning in a special 12-year mission designed to visit more asteroids than ever before.

It focuses on the Trojan asteroids, which are two large clumps of space rocks orbiting the sun. One floats ahead of Jupiter and the other behind it.

Scientists believe the rocks are leftovers from the formation of our solar system.

The probe is called “Lucy” and NASA hopes it will help us learn more about our solar system’s history.

The asteroids are also rich in carbon compounds, and may provide insights into organic materials and life on Earth.

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Turkey could run Kabul airport, says Erdogan

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

Having previously run Kabul airport, Turkey can take similar steps in the future with Qatar and Afghanistan if the three countries reach a deal, the Turkish president said on Friday.

“So far, we have had a lot of effort in Afghanistan’s infrastructure and superstructure … We were operating the Kabul Airport. In the future, if agreements can be reached, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, we can take such steps,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.

About the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s recent visit to Turkey, Erdogan said the group asked for humanitarian aid and “made requests concerning the functionality of new process in Afghanistan.”

Erdogan vowed to provide “all manner of support” to the Afghan people as long as the interim administration “takes a just stance in protecting the rights of the Afghan people.”

He said the IEA should also take a fair stance in their relations with Turkey.

An IEA delegation visited Turkey on Thursday to discuss bilateral issues, as well as cooperation on the future of Afghanistan.

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