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MoFA welcomes Troika statement after Moscow summit

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(Last Updated On: March 19, 2021)

The Afghan Foreign Ministry has welcomed the joint statement of Russia, China, the US, and Pakistan, also known as the Troika, issued following a day of discussions in Moscow.

The Ministry called the statement a step forward towards beginning serious negotiations for achieving peace based on the demands of the people of Afghanistan.

“Welcome joint statement of Troika+ talks in Moscow and share the call for ending hostilities and moving towards a peaceful settlement that preserves our sovereignty, unity, democracy, and equal rights of all Afghans, “ Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar said.

The Ministry also welcomed the statement’s emphasis on the UN Security Council Resolution 2513 and “consider its implementation important for holding the Taliban responsible and accountable for fulfilling their obligations, including ending violence and targeted killings and severing ties with terrorist organizations. As noted by the statement, Afghanistan’s territory must not be used by individuals or terrorist groups to threaten the security of other countries.”

The Afghan Government has always emphasized a peaceful settlement that can lead to a just and lasting peace, and on a free, independent, united, peaceful, democratic, and self-sufficient Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbors. We are delighted that this aspiration of the Afghan Government and people has also been reflected in the Moscow statement.

“We also support the statement’s emphasis on a political solution that protects our citizen rights and affirm that the preservation of political, economic, and cultural achievements, including the human rights of citizens and democratic institutions, is the most important prerequisite for achieving a just and lasting peace in the country,” the statement read.

“The Afghan Government welcomes the statement’s candidness stating that: “we do not support the restoration of the Islamic Emirate …” and stresses upon the principle that the “Islamic Republic” is the only inclusive and acceptable structure for ensuring political participation, pluralism, citizen equality and preserving law and order in a diverse and pluralistic society like Afghanistan.”

“While supporting the Moscow meeting’s final statement, we reaffirm that the Government of the IRoA is committed to engaging in substantive and serious negotiations on key issues, including establishing a ceasefire and achieving a comprehensive political settlement that ends the war and brings about sustainable peace in the country.”

“We support and commend the efforts of all countries in the region and the world to ensure peace in Afghanistan and acknowledge the significance of the United Nations’ role in strengthening the peace process. We also wish to thank Qatar, Russia, and Turkey for hosting the talks,” the statement concluded.

Russia hosted a landmark peace summit in Moscow on Thursday which brought together representatives of the Afghan Republic and the Taliban, along with other key stakeholders, aimed at accelerating the peace process in Afghanistan.

The Troika in a joint statement on Thursday stated that they do not support the restoration of an Islamic Emirate.

“We call on all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to reduce the level of violence in the country and on the Taliban not to pursue a Spring offensive, so as to avoid further casualties and to create an environment conducive to reaching a negotiated political settlement,” the statement said.

Citing the UN Security Council resolution 2513 (2020), the Troika said they do not support the restoration of the Islamic Emirate and called on the Afghan government and the High Council for National Reconciliation to engage openly with their Taliban counterparts regarding a negotiated settlement.

“We urge participants in the intra-Afghan negotiations to engage immediately in discussions on fundamental issues to resolve the conflict, including the foundations of the future peaceful and stable Afghan state, the content of a political roadmap leading to an inclusive government, and the modalities of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.”

“At this pivotal moment, our four states call on the parties to negotiate and conclude a peace agreement that will bring an end to over four decades of war in Afghanistan,” the statement read.

They also said they strongly advocate a durable and just political resolution with will result in an independent, sovereign, unified and peaceful Afghanistan “free of terrorism and an illicit drug industry”.

They also called on both the Afghan government and the Taliban to ensure no terrorist groups nor individuals use Afghan soil to threaten the security of any other country.

The Troika also stated: “We reaffirm that any peace agreement must include protections for the rights of all Afghans, including women, men, children, victims of war and minorities.”

All concerned countries were also encouraged to support the Afghan people and to contribute to a lasting peace.

“We reaffirm our commitment to mobilize international political and economic support for a post-political settlement in Afghanistan,” the statement read.

The Troika also acknowledged Qatar for its support of the peace process and said they were in support of the continuation of discussions between the negotiating teams in Doha.

In conclusion, they stated they welcome all international efforts that are underway to facilitate and support a negotiated settlement as soon as possible.

“We note that the UN Secretary-General Gutteres’ appointment of Mr. Jean Arnault as his personal envoy on Afghanistan and regional issues. We welcome the UN playing a positive and constructive role in the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.”

Thursday’s event was attended by representatives of the Afghan government, the Taliban, prominent Afghan political figures, and Qatar and Turkey representatives, who were guests of honor.

The US Special Representative for National Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad also attended the meeting, which is the first of two such summits planned.

The next landmark meeting will be held in Turkey next month – which is in line with Washington’s push for a political settlement as soon as possible.

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Pakistan’s customs agent says exports to Afghanistan dwindle

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Hundreds of trucks lined the winding, mountainous road leading to Torkhum, the Pakistan-Afghan border crossing on Thursday.

Pakistani officials say that is because exports to Afghanistan have dwindled in the days after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) take over.

But some truck drivers were upbeat because they said the vegetable and fruit season in Afghanistan had helped increase exports of these items from the war-ravaged country.

Another Pakistani official at another Pakistan-Afghan border Chaman said trade had picked up because the IEA government had reduced taxes, and also put an end to bribes that traders and truck drivers had to pay to cross the border.

Afghan new government bolstered its economic team last week, naming a commerce minister and two deputies as the group tries to revive a financial system in shock from the abrupt end to billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Underlining the economic pressures building on Afghanistan’s new government, prices for staples like flour, fuel, and rice have risen and long queues are still forming outside banks as they strictly ration withdrawals.

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Five climbers die in snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Five climbers died after they got caught in a sudden snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, officials said.

The other 14 members of the party were rescued on the peak in the Caucasus Mountains in high winds and low visibility amid temperatures of minus -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), the regional emergency ministry said.

The group of Russian climbers sent out a mayday call just after 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, the ministry added. Eleven of the survivors were taken to hospital.

One woman fell ill and died in the arms of one of the guides, Denis Alimov, who helped organise the climb, told TASS news agency.

Another climber broke his leg as he was coming down and the party decided to split into three groups depending on who could go fastest, Alimov told TASS.

“As they descended, two more people died in one of the groups. But the decision to split up was the right one, otherwise there might have been more casualties.”

Guides with the group suffered frostbite and other injuries, Alimov was quoted as saying.

Mount Elbrus, which rises to 5,642 metres (18,510 feet) just north of the border with Georgia, is infamous for sudden changes in weather and climbing conditions.

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IEA’s defence minister orders crackdown on abuses

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s acting new defence minister has issued a rebuke over misconduct by some commanders and fighters following the IEA’s victory over the Western-backed government in Afghanistan last month, saying abuses would not be tolerated, Reuters reported.

According to the report Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob said in an audio message that some “miscreants and notorious former soldiers” had been allowed to join Taliban units where they had committed a range of sometimes violent abuses.

“We direct you keep them out of your ranks, otherwise strict action will be taken against you,” he stated. “We don’t want such people in our ranks.”

The message from one of the IEA’s most senior ministers underlines the problems Afghanistan’s new rulers have sometimes had in controlling fighting forces as they transition from an insurgency to a peacetime administration, the report said.

Some Kabul residents have complained of abusive treatment at the hands of IEA forces who have appeared on the streets of the capital, often from other regions and unused to big cities.

There have also been reports of reprisals against members of the former government and military or civil society activists, despite promises of an amnesty by the IEA.

Yaqoob said there had been isolated reports of unauthorized executions, and he repeated that such actions would not be tolerated.

“As you all are aware, under the general amnesty announced in Afghanistan, no mujahid has the right to take revenge on anyone,” he said.

Reuters said that it was not clear precisely which incidents he was referring to, nor what prompted the message, which was published on IEA Twitter accounts and widely shared on social media.

There have been reports of tensions within the IEA between hardline battlefield commanders and political leaders more willing to seek compromise with governments outside Afghanistan, report said

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