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Khalilzad’s hurrying thread of meetings to kick off Intra-Afghan talks

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2020)

Khalilzad met the Taliban representatives and Afghan authorities Wednesday in attempts to start the Intra-Afghan negotiations.

In his latest thread of visits, the US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad met with the Taliban representatives and Afghan authorities respectively in Doha, and Kabul aimed to discuss the starting of the Intra-Afghan negotiations in no time.

In Doha, he said he had held 3 constructive meeting s with Mullah Baradar and members of the Taliban Political Commission in Doha, Qatar, and that he had emphasized the US-Taliban agreement is inter-connected – counter-terrorism commitments, Intra-Afghan negotiations, troop withdrawal, and gradual violence reduction leading to a permanent ceasefire.

“I also raised missing Americans Mark Frerichs and Paul Overby as well as our concerns about recent Taliban attacks in Kunduz, Ghazni, & Khost. We discussed their concerns with President Ghani’s ordering offensive attacks,” he said.

According to him, he has underlined the reduction in violence to the Taliban representatives, noting that it must fall by all sides. “Innocent Afghans have borne far too much and for too long the costs of this war,” he wrote.

He writes that the Taliban also expressed their commitment to the agreement and its implementation, adding, “They said they would do all they could to locate our citizens. They will consult their leadership in the next step.”

Confirming the events, the Taliban Political Commission Spokesperson Suhail Shaheen tweeted that they “talked in detail about the acceleration of the peace process.”

Quoting Mullah Baradar, he wrote, “Solution of the Afghan issue lies in the complete implementation of the Agreement. Other mechanisms rather than the Agreement, means creating hurdles in the way of peace. Even now, the peace process has been harmed. Any further delay in its implementation will further harm the process.”

In Kabul, Khalilzad met with the newly reconciled political couple, President Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah.

He wrote, “We discussed the next steps required to implement the agreement between the 2 leaders. On peace, we agreed that violence is much too high and there is a need to move urgently to reduce it by all sides.

“We also agreed on the importance of delivering (and soon) on other commitments made in the US-Taliban agreement and US-Afghanistan joint declaration including the release of prisoners by both sides and the start of Intra-Afghan negotiations.

It is noteworthy that in the meantime, neighboring China, Russia, and Iran have also emphasized the need to commence the Intra-Afghan negotiations.

They have said that they hoped that the Intra-Afghan negotiations begin as soon possible, noting that they can play a constructive role in strengthening the peace process.

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Most media workers in Afghanistan infected by Coronavirus

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(Last Updated On: June 5, 2020)

Reporters Without Borders says that at least 70 media workers in Afghanistan have been infected with the Coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Reporters Without Borders has released a statement titled “media professionals are added to death list either by attacks or Coronavirus” noting that since the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Afghanistan, at least 70 journalists and media workers have been infected.

The report says that two media workers in Afghanistan have died so far as a result of suffering from Covid-19.

The RWB notes that Sulaiman Yousufi, an Ariana News driver, and Nasir Ahmad Safi, an RTA reporter in Nangarhar province, were among the media workers who died of the Coronavirus.

Reporters Without Borders underlines that Afghan journalists infected by the Coronavirus do not have access to financial and medical resources.

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Afghan people want transparency in peace process

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(Last Updated On: June 5, 2020)

Afghan citizens call on the High Council for National Reconciliation to take practical steps in the peace process.

The people of Afghanistan see the current peace efforts vague and call on the government to keep the people into confidence about the progress made in this process.

Residents of Kabul say the peace process must be transparent and speedy. They also claim that people are not fully kept updated on peace efforts.

While the start of the Intra-Afghan negotiations depends on the release of all 5,000 Taliban prisoners and one thousand of government prisoners, no prisoners have been released by the two sides in the past four days.

This comes as the Taliban’s technical delegation, which has come to Kabul to identify their prisoners, has not yet left Kabul.

It is to be noted that nearly 3,000 Taliban prisoners and nearly 400 government prisoners have been released so far, and a number of countries have called for speeding up the process.

“Negotiations will not begin until all 5,000 prisoners are released,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission has shared a list of its proposals with the chairman of the High National Reconciliation Council to be pitched in the agenda of the Intra-Afghan talks.

“The rights of children, women, minorities, and victims of war must be protected throughout these talks,” said Naeem Nazari, deputy head of the Human Rights Commission.

“Women must play a significant role in peace processes,” said Fawzia Kofi, a member of the peace negotiating team.

On the other hand, the Norwegian Foreign Minister has told his Afghan counterpart that his country is trying to pave the way for the start of the Intra-Afghan Talks.

Earlier, sources said that the date for the start of the talks was set for June 15 and that the two sides were now trying to make a choice out of Qatar, Germany, Norway, and Uzbekistan as the host for the holding the talks.

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Leading tennis player charged with assaulting ex-wife

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(Last Updated On: June 5, 2020)

Nikoloz Basilashvili, a leading tennis player has been sued by his ex-wife for assault, CNN reports.

A statement from the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia indicates that Nikoloz Basilashvili, who is ranked No. 27 in the world, was charged with violence against Neli Dorokashvili.

Although an investigation into the criminal case is ongoing, Basilashvili was released on a bail of $31,300 and is due to return to court on July 16 for the next hearing.

In a statement on Basilashvili’s Facebook page posted after he posted bail, his legal representatives said the allegations are “false and totally unsubstantiated.”

The couple, who have a five-year-old son together, divorced last year.

His lawyers have said, “We would like to ensure Nikoloz Basilashvili’s fans that video footage already submitted to the court evidences our client’s position and fully discharges him from the abovementioned untrue allegations.”

On the other hand, Dorokashvili’s lawyer says there is evidence to support her claims, noting “There are people who are witness to their relationship. There are some video records and audio records. There also some transcripts, there are dialogues of phone text messages and so forth.”

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