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Lack of consensus on Afghan agenda for Istanbul Summit emerges

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(Last Updated On: March 31, 2021)

Afghan politicians say Afghanistan as a whole, and government, has not yet settled on a single agenda to be presented at the Istanbul Summit scheduled for early April.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it is working on a plan to reduce violence and end the war – a plan that will be presented to delegates at the summit.

However, the High Caouncil for National Reconciliation says it will vote on the proposed US government peace plan, which includes a transitional government.

The House of Representatives, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami party and a number of political figures will also present their ideas at the summit.

“We call on the Turkish Conference [delegates] to help bring an end to hostilities and stop the bloodshed as soon as possible [in order to pave the way] for successful negotiations for a political agreement; thus the region and the international community [show] support for a dignified and lasting peace,” said Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar.

Previously the High Council for National Reconciliation said the Turkish government had spoken to Afghan political figures and the Taliban about the talks. But the HCNR said the proposed US peace plan will be discussed.

“The US government’s plan which was shared with the Taliban, the High Council for National Reconciliation and the Presidential Palace will be discussed,” said Din Mohammad, HCNR deputy head.

While the Taliban welcomed the US proposal to hold the Istanbul Summit, the group said it has no specific plans to put to delegates.

“We accept any country that cooperates for the freedom and independence of Afghanistan, but we do not know when this meeting will take place and with what agenda,” said Mohammad Naeem, the Taliban’s spokesman.

However, differing opinions and a lack of consensus among Afghan officials and politicians have raised concerns in Kabul.

“The two sides that are participating at the Istanbul summit are the Taliban, who once flogged people, and the other side are politicians who have been busy exploiting [the people] for the past 20 years,” said Halima Sadaf Karimi, an MP.

While the exact date for the summit has not yet been announced, the HCNR said on Wednesday it will probably be held in the second week of April.

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US ready to lift many sanctions but Iran says it wants more

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(Last Updated On: May 8, 2021)

The United States has expressed its readiness to lift many of its sanctions on Iran at the Vienna nuclear talks but Tehran is demanding more, top Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi told state media on Friday.

“The information transferred to us from the U.S. side is that they are also serious on returning to the nuclear deal and they have so far declared their readiness to lift a great part of their sanctions,” Araqchi told state TV.

“But this is not adequate from our point of view and therefore the discussions will continue until we get to all our demands,” Araqchi said as indirect talks were scheduled to resume on Friday in the Austrian capital.

In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden said he believed Iran was seriously engaging in the talks but it was unclear what Tehran was actually prepared to do for both sides to resume compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Asked at the White House if he thought Tehran was serious about talks, Biden replied: “Yes, but how serious, and what they are prepared to do is a different story. But we’re still talking.”

U.S. officials have returned to Vienna for a fourth round of indirect talks with Iran on how to resume compliance with the deal, which former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, prompting Iran to begin violating its terms about a year later.

The crux of the agreement was that Iran committed to rein in its nuclear program to make it harder to obtain the fissile material for a nuclear weapon in return for relief from U.S., EU and U.N. sanctions.

Tehran denies having nuclear weapons ambitions.

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30 killed in three back-to-back explosions at Kabul school

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(Last Updated On: May 8, 2021)

Three consecutive explosions targeted students at a public school in PD13, in Dasht-e-Barchi, in Kabul city on Saturday evening killing at least 30 people.

According to the sources, an explosive-loaded vehicle detonated in front of the Sayeed-ul-Shuhada High School at around 4:30 pm. This explosion was followed by two suicide bombings while frantic students were running from the school compound immediately after the first explosion.

The Interior Ministry stated that at least 30 people – including students – were killed and 52 others wounded in the explosions.

Sources, meanwhile, stated that as many as 40 people have been killed and around 100 others injured in the incident.

So far no group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Taliban issued a statement soon after the explosion and denied any involvement in the attack.

The group said: “We condemn blasts in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of Kabul that were carried out against civilians; unfortunately, the blasts left too many casualties.”

The Taliban blamed the terrorist group Daesh (IS-K) for the attack.

Meanwhile, the attack has been widely condemned by the Afghan leaders and the international community.

The UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has expressed “its deep revulsion at today’s blasts in Dasht-i-Barchi Kabul. An atrocity. Many civilians were killed and injured. Our heartfelt condolences are with the victim’s families and we wish a speedy recovery to those hurt.”

The European Union in Afghanistan also condemned today’s explosion stating “the horrendous attack in Dasht-i Barchi area in Kabul, is a despicable act of terrorism. Targeting primarily students in a girls’ school makes this an attack on the future of Afghanistan.”

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the bombing in Kabul, said it was a “barbaric act”. He said the Taliban have shown they are not only reluctant to resolve the current crisis peacefully and fundamentally. He said: “They sabotage peace.”

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13 killed, 35 wounded in Kabul blast

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(Last Updated On: May 8, 2021)

A heavy explosion rattled the Dasht-e-Barchi area in Kabul city on Saturday afternoon, sources said.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) stated that a blast happened close to Sayeed-ul-Shuhada School in PD13 of Kabul city at around 4:27 pm Saturday.

At least 13 people were killed and 35 others wounded in the blast, sources said.

Sources, however, stated that three blasts happened in the area. The cause of the blasts yet to be determined.

Pictures published on social media show that a number of civilians have been killed in the blasts.

Meanwhile, Ariana News correspondent stated people with private vehicles are rushing victims to the hospitals instead of waiting for an ambulance.

According to the sources, most of the victims and wounded people are students.

Immediately no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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