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Stanekzai says delay no cause for concern after Ghani met with team

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(Last Updated On: October 5, 2020)

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani met with the Afghan negotiating team in Doha on Monday and discussed issues around the peace talks. 

Ghani did not address the media after the meeting but the head of the Afghanistan Republic’s negotiating team, Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, said the delay in talks should not be of too much concern as both sides are committed to getting the peace talks off the ground. 

Khalid Noor, one of the negotiating team members also said that meetings have been held between both parties over the past few days in order to resolve the disputed points. 

He did not venture details on the “disputed points” but it is widely believed that two issues are holding up the process – that of Hanafi jurisprudence and that the Afghan government does not recognize the US-Taliban deal as being the framework for which talks should be based on. 

However, Noor stated that the Afghan republic’s team are representing all Afghans and that includes “freedom of speech and other values that we believe in, including women’s rights, [which] is valuable to us and we are here to defend them and we have made them [the Taliban] understand that today’s Afghanistan is different from Afghanistan 20 years ago.

“We will defend the rights of every single Afghan including youths, women, Ulema, media … We will start real talks as soon as we can,” he said. 

Another negotiating team member to speak to Ariana News was political activist Fawzia Koofi.

As a staunch women’s rights activist, Koofi said: “The women are part of our society; therefore, their security, to safeguard their status (in the society) and their freedom is very important. We grew up with these values in the past 20 years at least we politically have grown-up, therefore, we assure you that these points are valuable to us.”

“The freedom of speech and all other freedoms that we gained and experienced in the past 20 years have been a milestone and a direct link to how the negotiation is going to succeed.

We will not easily give up on the basic principles that we gained in the past 20 years,” she said. 

She went on to say the “talks are complicated as we want to resolve a four-decade conflict through dialogue and we (the Afghan and Taliban teams) are in an unequal situation. 

“But the spirit of holding meetings between the two sides and reaching an agreement on basic issues is a success,” she said adding that there were however still issues that needed to be resolved so that “the foundation for the next phases could be laid.”

Ghani, who is in Qatar on an official visit, is scheduled to meet with high-ranking officials. Earlier, Nader Nadery, another member of the peace talks team said Ghani is in Qatar on an official visit and that his trip is not directly linked to the peace talks, which are underway in the city. 

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Biden to keep Khalilzad as peace envoy for now

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

Former president Donald Trump’s peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad will retain his position, for now, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN. 

This move is not typical as traditionally an incoming administration replaces all politically appointed officials – especially those dealing with foreign policy issues. 

Khalilzad, a diplomatic veteran, has worked on the peace process for more than two years and has been the key official from Washington to meet with both the Afghan government and the Taliban as well as all other stakeholders and regional leaders. 

No further details were released and according to CNN the State Department did not comment when asked about Khalilzad staying on board. 

However, in a statement issued late Friday, the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib that the United States intends to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement.”

He also said Washington would assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.

Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

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Washington to review US-Taliban deal, Sullivan tells Mohib 

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib on Friday evening and said Washington intends to review the US-Taliban deal signed in February last year and to assess whether the Taliban is adhering to its commitments. 

In a statement issued by the White House following the discussion between the two NSAs, Sullivan said the US will support the peace process with “a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent ceasefire”. 

Sullivan also made clear “the United States’ intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement, including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.”

According to the statement, Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

In addition, Sullivan and Mohib discussed the US’s support for protecting the gains made by Afghan women, girls, and minority groups as part of the peace process. 

Sullivan also “committed to consulting closely with the Afghan government, NATO allies, and regional partners regarding a collective strategy to support a stable, sovereign, and secure future for Afghanistan,” the statement read.

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Attacks are against the values of Islam, Atmar tells OIC chief 

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2021)

Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar held talks on Wednesday with Yousef al-Othaimeen, the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Saudi Arabia and discussed the current peace talks being held in Doha, Qatar. 

In a statement, the Jeddah-based organization said discussions were held on the peace process, and on how the OIC can support the talks. 

Al-Othaimeen reiterated the OIC’s commitment to supporting the Afghan people, and development projects in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Atmar praised the OIC for its role in forging unity among Islamic countries in support of the peace process and for issuing special resolutions to form a consensus among Islamic countries to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan. 

At the meeting, Atmar called the war in Afghanistan illegitimate from the point of view of Islam.

“The crimes that are being committed in Afghanistan today are completely incompatible with the beliefs of Muslims and Islamic teachings; Attacks on female judges, killings of Kabul University students and attacks on maternity hospitals are certainly not justifiable in Islam,” he said.

Atmar also stated that if the opposition is truly committed to peace, the Afghan government would not see any obstacles to national reconciliation and the success of the peace process, and would be ready to pave the way for political participation on all sides in accordance with the free will of the Afghan people and internationally accepted standards.

“We want the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to continue its previous demands to end the bloodshed and resolve the political crisis in Afghanistan through holding follow-up meetings, expert consultations and sending special groups to consult with the teams,” he said. 

In response to the Foreign Minister’s remarks, the Secretary-General of the OIC said that he commends and supports the flexible and adaptable position of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan towards peace.

Al-Othaimeen pointed out that killing, violence and intimidation are contrary to the essence of Islam and that people should be made aware that Islam is not a religion of terror and violence, but a religion of unity and convergence. 

He praised the role of religious scholars in this regard, saying that scholars in Islamic societies have an important position not only from a religious point of view but also from a political point of view.

 

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