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NATO says allies will leave Afghanistan together

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(Last Updated On: October 9, 2020)

NATO said Thursday that its members would consult and decide on when to leave Afghanistan after US President Donald Trump asserted to bring all American forces home by Christmas.

Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3, said on Twitter Wednesday: “We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!”

Addressing a joint press conference with President of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: “We decided to go into Afghanistan together, we will make decisions on future adjustments together, and when the time is right, we will leave together.”

Stoltenberg stated that NATO’s decisions would be based on the conditions on the ground.

“Because we think it is extremely important to continue to be committed to the future of Afghanistan because it is in our interest to preserve the long-term security of Afghanistan,” he noted.

Stoltenberg highlighted that NATO is in Afghanistan to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists.

“Hundreds of thousands of soldiers from Europe, from Canada have served shoulder-to-shoulder with US soldiers in Afghanistan to prevent terrorists from once again controlling that country.”

“And we are committed to our mission in Afghanistan because it is in our security interest to make sure that Afghanistan does not once again become a platform where terrorists can plan, organize and conduct terrorist attacks on our own countries,” NATO Chief added.

Stoltenberg one again reiterated NATO’s support for the Afghan peace process.

“And as part of the peace effort, we have reduced our presence in Afghanistan. Not so long ago we had more than a hundred thousand troops in the big combat operation. And now we have roughly 12,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, and they support, they train, assist and advise the African security forces.”

This comes the US-brokered peace talks have been stalled about a week ago after the Afghan government and the Taliban delegations failed to reach an agreement over two sticking points.

According to the reports, the Taliban demand recognition of the US-Taliban deal as the base of the negotiations and Hanafi jurisprudence as the sole religious legal guidelines for the talks.

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Iran to host multilateral conference on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

Foreign ministers of Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Russia are expected to meet in Tehran next week for talks on Afghanistan.

Tehran will host the meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbours plus Russia on October 27, which will be attended by all six foreign ministers.

During a press conference on Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh announced that “the six countries will be focused on how they can help form an inclusive government in Afghanistan with the presence of all ethnic groups, and how they can help shape a future of peace and security in Afghanistan.”

Khatibzadeh said Iran has maintained contact with all parties in Afghanistan, including the IEA.

Earlier this year, Tehran hosted intra-Afghan talks that included the IEA before the armed group took control of Afghanistan.

Iran has, however, refused to participate in any talks hosted or participated by the United States, which it says was a main cause of instability and violence in the country.

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Top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad steps down

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

Top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is stepping down, the State Department said on Monday, less than two months after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [IEA] takeover of the country, Reuters reported.

Khalilzad will be replaced by his deputy, Tom West, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, noting that West will work closely with the U.S. embassy, which is now based in Doha, on U.S. interests in Afghanistan, read the report.

According to the report a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that Khalilzad submitted his resignation on Friday.

His departure follows his exclusion from the Biden administration’s first formal talks with the IEA after the U.S. pullout, held in Doha earlier in October.

Khalilzad did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.

Khalilzad, born in Afghanistan, held the post since 2018 and spearheaded the negotiations with the IEA that led to the February 2020 agreement for the withdrawal of U.S. forces this year.

He then pressed the IEA and the Western-backed government of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to negotiate a political settlement to decades of strife.

In mid-August, the government collapsed as the IEA swept through the country and marched into the capital, Kabul, unopposed. Khalilzad was left seeking the militants’ assistance in the U.S. evacuation of U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghans who worked for the U.S. government.

Current and former U.S. officials told Reuters earlier that in the three years Khalilzad had been in the role, he became the face of one of the largest U.S. diplomatic failures in recent memory.

U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the veteran American diplomat relinquished leverage to the IEA, continuously undermined the Afghan government, and had little interest in hearing different viewpoints within the U.S. government, Reuters reported.

CNN first reported Khalilzad’s plan to resign.

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Karzai says Pakistan must not interfere in Afghanistan’s affairs

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(Last Updated On: October 18, 2021)

Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said the current Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) government in needs internal legitimacy in order for it to gain international recognition and that Pakistan should not interfere in Afghanistan’s affairs.

In an interview with VOA, Karzai said that internal legitimacy could only be achieved through the expression of the will of the Afghan people, either in the form of elections or holding the Loya Jirga, a traditional grand council.

He said that Afghanistan is at a critical juncture in its history and Afghans have a responsibility to “unite” and create a government premised on “the expression of the will of the Afghan people.”

“Legitimacy within our own country for this government (IEA) or for any other government is the foundation of recognition by countries and the international community,” Karzai said.

Pakistani leaders, including Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quresh, have advocated for the IEA and have urged the international community to work with the new government in Kabul.

“If we neglect Afghanistan right now, there’s a huge humanitarian crisis looming ahead, and this will have serious repercussions not just for the neighbors of Afghanistan, but it will have repercussions everywhere,” Imran Khan told the U.N. General Assembly in September.

“We must strengthen this current government, stabilize it, for the sake of the people of Afghanistan. What have the Taliban (IEA) promised? They will respect human rights, they will have an inclusive government, they will not allow this soil to be used by terrorists,” Khan added.

Karzai told VOA that Pakistan is not the representative of the Afghan people.

“My message to Pakistan, our brotherly country, is that they should not try to represent Afghanistan. On the contrary, the country should try to establish a civil relationship with our country,” he said.

“We have deep people-to-people relations with Pakistan. … Our hope from Pakistan is that the country should not try to maintain its relations with us through interference, the encouragement of extremism and terrorism or by force, but rather establish relations with Afghanistan through civil principles and principles of international relations, and we will happily maintain that relationship with them,” he added.

Karzai also voiced concerns about the Islamic State (Daesh) terror group’s uptick in violence in Afghanistan and deemed it a threat to both Afghanistan and the region.

The militant group’s local branch, known as the Islamic State Khorasan, has claimed responsibility for several vicious attacks in recent weeks in Kabul, Kunduz and Kandahar provinces, where more than 100 civilians have been killed and many others wounded.

“As proven by the unfortunate bomb blasts — rather, suicide attacks in the mosque in Kabul two weeks ago, then in Kunduz last week, and then in Kandahar yesterday (October 15) — this has proven that Daesh is a threat to Afghanistan and to the life and livelihood of the Afghan people,” Karzai said.

Karzai showed optimism that the region will support Afghanistan in its fight against Daesh because it could pose a threat to their security. In addition, he said he hopes that regional powers would seek common ground in Afghanistan,.

He said it is Afghanistan’s responsibility to work with other countries in the region in a way that results in peace and stability.

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