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Moscow Interested in Including Iran in Four-Party Talks on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: November 3, 2019)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that his country has an interest in including Iran in the Russia-China-U.S. format for Afghan peace talks.

“We have a dialogue with [the United States] on Afghanistan. There is a Russia-China-U.S. format that Pakistan has joined. There is interest in connecting Iran to this format. [We believe] It can be promising,” Lavrov said.

Chief negotiators for the U.S. and Taliban held nine rounds of direct talks, until they agreed “in principle” to a framework for peace.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly cancelled peace negotiations with the Taliban in September this year.

Following the collapse of U.S.-Taliban talks, a Taliban delegation travelled to Iran and Russia to discuss the peace process but additional details of these discussions have not been disclosed.

In late October, representatives of China, Russia, the United States and Pakistan held talks in Moscow where they discussed ways to assist Afghanistan in achieving lasting peace. The Four-Party meeting issued a joint statement, calling for an early resumption of U.S.-Taliban talks.

Moscow and Tehran are allies but Washington and Tehran have a hostile policy toward each other.

“Iran is our neighbor [and] that involves in different issues related to Afghanistan. We have more than two million refugees in Iran. So, Tehran’s involvement in negotiation is needed,” said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, the leader of Hezb-e-Nuhzat Hambastagi Milli, a political party in Afghanistan.

“The Four-Party meeting was effective, because these countries can make a decision for Afghanistan. If United States allows it, Iran can play a role in the Afghan peace process,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former member of the Taliban militant group.

In December 2018, Tehran announced that it had been holding talks with the Taliban with the knowledge of the Afghan government.

Kabul has always emphasized that it welcomes sincere efforts of any country that helps bring peace to Afghanistan but it must be part of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

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Afghanistan, Turkmenistan sign MoUs, seal private sector contracts

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(Last Updated On: September 30, 2020)

Afghanistan and Turkmenistan signed three memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and an economic cooperation agreement in Kabul on Wednesday for electricity and fiber optics.

In a statement issued by the Presidential Palace (ARG), two companies will be responsible for transferring 500 MW of electricity from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan and for connecting a fiber optics network. The companies are Afghanistan’s Bayat Group and Turkmenistan’s Chalak Company.

During the official signing ceremony, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani thanked the two companies for their cooperation and said Turkmenistan and Afghanistan are proving to be good neighbors amid efforts to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties. 

“Thanks to the presence of Bayat Group and Chalak Private Company, it shows that Afghan and international private companies have joined hands to provide electricity,” Ghani was quoted in the statement as having said. 

“Fiber optics is the infrastructure of the 21st century and this infrastructure gives hope to our youth. Innovative work in the 21st century is impossible without a comprehensive understanding of fiber optic networks, connectivity and modern technology,” he stated.

Representing Turkmenistan at the event was Turkmen Ambassador to Afghanistan Ovezov Hoja Sapargeldievich.

The ambassador said talks between the presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan had always been about bilateral cooperation and partnership. He said his country supports all efforts and initiatives for peace and stability in Afghanistan and hoped that Afghanistan would achieve peace as soon as possible.

Ghani in turn thanked the ambassador and the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow and said that with ongoing efforts to strengthen ties new avenues, including the lapus lazuli and silk road routes, were projects that will be delivered on. 

He said the countries were today able to revisit history and make up for the time lost in recent years. 

Ghani also said the TAPI pipeline project would benefit both countries and the people of Afghanistan. 

“Turkmenistan is a good neighbor not only to Afghanistan, but to all of us, and we are going back to our ancient roots,” he said.

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Pakistan president says peace talks are a ‘watershed’ moment

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(Last Updated On: September 30, 2020)

Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah met with Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi on Wednesday to discuss progress regarding the current intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, Qatar. 

During the meeting, Alvi stated that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and said a politically negotiated settlement was the only way forward. 

Alvi also said the start of long-awaited peace talks was a “watershed” in Afghanistan’s history. 

He stressed that the “Afghan leadership must seize this historic opportunity to work together constructively and secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement”.

He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to supporting the Afghan peace process. 

Abdullah also met with a delegation of religious scholars in Islamabad on Wednesday – his final day of an official three-day visit. 

Among the scholars, he met was Hanif Jalandhari, the general secretary for the federation of Madrassas, who pledged support for the intra-Afghan talks. 

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Tensions mount as Armenia and Azerbaijan clashes continue

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(Last Updated On: September 30, 2020)

NATO allies France and Turkey traded angry accusations on Wednesday as international tensions mounted over clashes between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory. 

Clashes broke out on Sunday and since then dozens have been killed and hundreds wounded on both sides in clashes that have now spread beyond the enclave’s territory. 

The skirmishes have raised concerns about stability in the South Caucasus region, a corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets, and raised fears that regional powers Russia and Turkey could be drawn in, Reuters reported.

Some of Turkey’s NATO allies are increasingly alarmed by Ankara’s stance on Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region inside Turkey’s close ally Azerbaijan that is run by ethnic Armenians but is not recognised by any country as an independent republic.

Echoing remarks by President Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday Turkey would “do what is necessary” when asked whether Ankara would offer military support if Azerbaijan requested it.

Cavusoglu also said French solidarity with Armenia amounted to supporting Armenian occupation in Azerbaijan, Reuters reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country is home to many people of Armenian ancestry, hit back during a visit to Latvia. He said France was extremely concerned by “warlike messages” from Turkey.

“And that we won’t accept,” he said.

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