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NATO chief says ‘no guarantee of success’ in Afghanistan peace process

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(Last Updated On: December 30, 2020)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week there is no guarantee of success in Afghanistan but that the organization will meet with incoming US President Joe Biden’s team in February in order to make a decision on whether to stay in the country or withdraw all its troops.

In an interview with Germany’s dpa news agency, Stoltenberg said: “Whatever we decide, there is a risk. If we decide to leave, the risk is that we will lose the gains we have made in fighting international terrorism to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven.

“If we stay, of course there is the risk that we will see increased fighting, violence, and that we will remain engaged in a long-term military conflict in Afghanistan,” he said.

He stated that “it’s a fragile peace process” currently and that there is “no guarantee of success”.

“But the ongoing talks in Doha between the Afghan government and Taliban is the only path to peace, and NATO strongly supports those efforts.

“We will have another meeting in February with the new Biden administration and then make our decisions,” Stoltenberg said.

This comes amid what he described as a fragile peace process – intra-Afghan negotiations, which are set to resume in Doha, Qatar, on January 5.

However, in February the US signed an agreement with the Taliban agreeing to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by April next year.

Already the US is down to only about 4,000 troops, from 13,000 a year ago, and by mid-January only 2,500 will remain.

According to Military.com, NATO had about 11,000 troops in Afghanistan at the end of November – a figure that includes US troops.

The largest contingents from other nations include Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy. Each had roughly between 900 and 1,000 troops supporting the effort as of June.

Stoltenberg’s interview with dpa comes a month after he expressed concern about the US’s withdrawal plan, saying the Taliban had not kept its end of the deal and a hasty withdrawal of troops could make the country a haven for terror groups.

“As you know, the United States has announced that it will reduce its presence in Afghanistan. But the NATO mission will remain,” he said in November. “And we will continue to provide support to Afghan security forces,” he said at the time.

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Hanafi appeals for cooperation, assures the world the IEA is a ‘responsible govt’

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2021)

Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said on Wednesday at the high-level meeting in Moscow on Afghanistan that the new Islamic Emirate (IEA) leaders assure the world that no security threat will be posed to them from within Afghanistan.

Addressing delegates at the summit, Hanafi said the new administration was a “responsible government “.

“We assure [the world and the region] that the security situation in Afghanistan is reliable and there is no threat to countries near and far.”

He stated Afghans now have a responsible government, which is committed to national interests, and to safeguarding the country’s political freedom.

“The current government also assures the international community that, as a responsible government, it fully understands all its national and international responsibilities,” he said.

Hanafi went on to say that the IEA leadership has tried to incorporate all ethnic groups and sections of Afghan society into the new Islamic government.

“We must remember that the recent development was a revolutionary one. But we assure our people that the process of reforming the country’s political structure continues.

“It should not be forgotten that the reform process in political systems is time consuming. But there is serious determination in our leadership that the new government will provide standard and fast services to our people,” he said.

Raising the issue of rampant corruption under the previous regime, Hanafi said this problem was prevalent in all sectors of the political structure and that despite repeated promises by former leaders to fight the scourge, nothing was done.

“You all wintessed that the people of Afghanistan have suffered greatly from widespread corruption over the past twenty years.

“Unfortunately, corruption in the previous regime covered all parts of the political structure, and despite beautiful promises at international forums, until the last moment of the previous regime, no progress was made in the fight against corruption, and the leaders of the previous regime missed every opportunity and used the pursuit of national wealth [for their own benefit].

“We inherited a government that owed money to its neighbors. One which had not even paid its employees their salaries for months.

“The new Islamic government proved in a short period of time that it is very serious about the fight against corruption and good governance, and that there will not be the slightest tolerance for corruption.

“We understand that our people have suffered from the wars imposed by foreigners, the imposition of foreign political structures, and widespread corruption. It is the responsibility of our government to provide good services to our people like any other nation in the world,” he said.

He also said it was the first time in over 40 years that a government in power was able to rule the entire country.

“Afghanistan now has a political structure with a clear hierarchy, a unified command. We no longer have anything called islands of power in Afghanistan.”

He said all the pillars of government were now in place and called on the international community to recognize the IEA as the legitimate government and to release Afghanistan’s frozen assets.

He stated that isolating Afghanistan was not in the interests of the rest of the world

“For the first time, our people have a (proper) government, they hope the international community has formal interactions with their government,” he said.

Hanafi told delegates the new government is ready to address all the international community’s concerns openly, honestly and transparently.

“I would like to remind you that the people of Afghanistan have no will to harm any country or nation in the world. As a civilized nation with a strong religion, culture and human values, we want to live in a peaceful environment. We want relations with neighboring countries, the region and the world that are based on the principle of respect for national sovereignty and mutual respect.

“With this platform, we once again call on the United States of America to unfreeze the reserves of the Central Bank of Afghanistan. This is, in fact, the wealth of the Afghan people, and our suffering people should not pay the price for political differences,” he said.

“I want to make it clear that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has proven in the past that in order to preserve freedom, national and religious values and the supreme interests of the country, no deal will be made under pressure that is not acceptable to our people. The pressure option has been proven (to be a failure) in the past.

“It is good to interact through understanding. The Islamic Emirate, as a legitimate government, is responsible for preparing for any civilized interaction with the rest of the world,” he stated.

Hanafi meanwhile met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on the sidelines of the meeting.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed in detail relations between the two countries, stability in the region and a better future for Afghanistan, MoFA spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi tweeted.

China meanwhile came out in support of the Afghan delegation’s participation at the Moscow summit and called on delegates to cooperate with the Afghan people in rebuilding the country.

“They say we can make our region safer and more stable,” Chinese delegates said.

China said it is cooperating with the new government and that it will not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs but will continue constructive relations with Kabul.

“The international community must not ignore the progress made over the past two months,” China stated.

Eleven countries gathered in Moscow Wednesday to discuss the way forward with Afghanistan which is facing a looming humanitarian crisis as the international community continues to refuse to acknowledge the IEA as a legitimate government.

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Russia recognizes IEA’s ‘efforts’ to stabilize Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2021)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has acknowledged the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) efforts to stabilize Afghanistan after the delegation arrived in Moscow on Wednesday for talks.

Lavrov added that the Kremlin is “satisfied with the level of interaction with the new Afghan authorities”, while pointing the finger at Daesh (ISIS-K) and al-Qaeda for trying to take advantage of instability in Afghanistan, RT reported.

Russians meanwhile said earlier that they’re not going to recognize the IEA government until they are able to prove their commitments to the world, Anil Trigunayat, a former Russian diplomat, told Times Now on Wednesday.

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Khalilzad: Afghanistan is facing ‘great challenges ahead’

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2021)

Zalmay Khalilzad said a day after his resignation as the US State Department’s special envoy for the Afghan reconciliation process that the country was facing major challenges

“US forces are out and the war for the United States is over, but this is not the final chapter,” he said in a series of tweets.

Khalilzad also said he remained committed to peace in Afghanistan and the region.

“I am committed to the possibility of peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and in the wider region. This is what Afghans have yearned for more than 40 years. The United States stands with them,” Khalilzad added.

The Afghan-American diplomat said in the tweets that the United States, the international community and Afghan leaders would stay in touch and he welcomed Thomas West’s appointment as his successor.

He also thanked the US State Department, Defense and intelligence officials “who joined me on this mission “.

Khalilzad’s resignation came two months after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) took control of Kabul.

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