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Peace is Priority for U.S. in Afghanistan: Khalilzad

Ariana News

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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2019)

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, in an exclusive interview with Ariana News says that the United States’ priority in Afghanistan is peace; however, the U.S. supports the election process to be held transparently.

“The position of the United States is that our priority is peace and we want, if God wills, to reach an agreement and framework regarding peace until September first. And we prioritize and support any decision which comes in the agreement,” said Khalilzad.

“But, we are helping to prepare for a transparent election which all the Afghans support its result,” he added.

Moreover, Khalilzad stresses that he is not negotiating with the Taliban while having the Islamic Emirates system on the negotiation table.

“We do not recognize the group by the name of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan but the Taliban,” said Khalilzad.

After staying for many days in Kabul, Khalilzad in a tweet says that he is wrapping up his most productive visit to Afghanistan and is leaving Kabul for Doha.

“The U.S. and Afghanistan have agreed on the next steps. And a negotiating team and technical support group are being finalized,” tweeted Khalilzad.

“I am off to Doha, with a stop in Islamabad, In Doha, if the Taliban do their part, we will do ours, and conclude the agreement we have been working on,” he said in a tweet.

This comes as the Afghan State Ministry for Peace Affairs has announced that the government has finalized and formed a negotiating team of 15 members who are supposed to directly talk with the Taliban soon.

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UK to allow more interpreters to start new lives in Britain

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2020)

The UK government on Saturday announced an expanded relocation scheme for former Afghan interpreters who supported British Armed forces in Helmand province. 

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the changes will significantly expand the eligibility criteria for former interpreters to apply for the relocation offer.

Until now, former employees must have been made redundant on or after 1 May 2006 with 12 months or more service outside the wire on the frontline.

Saturday’s announcement will allow an additional group of interpreters – those who resigned on or after 1 May 2006 after serving a minimum of 18 months on the frontline – to apply for relocation.

Their spouses and children will also benefit from the expanded scheme.

“Courageous Afghans worked side by side with our Armed Forces to defeat terrorism, risking their own lives in the pursuit of peace,” said Patel. 

“In recognition of their dedication, today we are fulfilling our promise and have expanded the relocation scheme so that more brave Afghans and their families can come and build a new life in the UK,” she said.

Wallace in turn stated: “Our efforts in Afghanistan simply could not have been possible without the help of brave interpreters who risked their lives to work alongside our personnel throughout the conflict.

“They did not leave us behind then, and we will not leave them behind now. It is crucial there is a fair system in place to support those who want to relocate to the UK, and that is why we are going even further to make sure more individuals have the opportunity to apply for relocation.

“The Home Office and Defense will always work together to address policy issues and promote British values,” he said. 

The changes to the scheme will be made through secondary legislation in October and be implemented shortly afterwards, the UK noted in a statement.

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Ghani condemns attack on yet another government official

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2020)

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack on Ayub Gharwal, deputy head of Paktia Provincial Council, who was gunned down on Saturday in Gardez city. 

In a statement issued by the Presidential Palace (ARG), Ghani reiterated his call to the Taliban to call for a humanitarian and lasting ceasefire to ensure the security of civilians. 

The president also called for an investigation into the killing of Gharwal. 

Paktia officials said the incident happened at about 5.30am in Gardez city while Gharwal was on his way to Gardez University. 

Officials said Gharwal was seriously wounded in the attack and later died in hospital from gunshot wounds. 

Gharwal’s death is another in a string of targeted attacks on high-profile public figures and government officials. 

Earlier this month, Vice President Amrullah Saleh was also targeted in an attack in Kabul. 

Saleh escaped with minor injuries but at least 10 people were killed in the roadside bombing that was intended to kill Saleh. 

No group has yet claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack on Gharwal. 

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Trump calls Taliban tough but says US military can’t police Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2020)

US President Donald Trump said Friday night that the Taliban was tough and smart but also “tired of fighting.”

Speaking to journalists at a press conference, Trump reiterated his decision on troop withdrawals and said “we’ll be down very shortly over the next couple of weeks to 4,000 — less than 4,000 in Afghanistan.

“And then we’ll make that final determination a little bit later on.”

On the Taliban, Trump said: “We’re dealing very well with the Taliban. They’re very tough, they’re very smart, they’re very sharp. But, you know, it’s been 19 years, and even they are tired of fighting, in all fairness.”

Trump also said the US had been serving as a “police force” in Afghanistan. 

“And we really served as a police force, because if we wanted to do what we had to do, we would have fought a lot differently than they have over their 19 years.

“They didn’t fight it properly. They were police, okay? They’re not police; they’re — they’re soldiers. So there’s a difference. The police — nobody has more respect for police than I do, but they have to do their own policing.”

Trump went on to say the US is “having some very good discussions with the Taliban, as you probably heard. It’s been public. And — but we’ll be down to — very shortly, we’ll be down to less than 4,000 soldiers.”

“And so we’ll be out of there, knowing that certain things have to happen — certain things have to be fulfilled.  But 19 years is a long time, 8,000 miles away. Nineteen years is a long time,” he said.

This comes amid the first rounds of intra-Afghan negotiations following the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February that set out certain conditions – one of which is the withdrawal of all foreign troops by around April next year. 

 

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