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Taliban Leader Mullah Baradar Optimistic About Peace

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(Last Updated On: March 14, 2019)

The Taliban political chief, who headed the Islamist militants’ delegation during the most recent round of peace talks with the United States, said on Thursday that he was optimistic and assured Afghans that they had no reason to fear a settlement.

The latest round of talks in Qatar lasted 16 days and finished on Tuesday, with officials from both sides saying that progress had been made, but there was no agreement on when foreign troops might be withdrawn.

“We are very hopeful for the peace talks, because the latest round had some good dialogues which paved the way to more progress regarding peace in the future,” Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said in an eight-minute audio tape of an interview conducted by the Taliban and posted online. 

Making his first public comments since his release last year from a Pakistan prison, Baradar sought to reassure Afghans who have worried that peace with the Taliban could herald the return of its hardline Islamist values.

“If (Afghans) think of us like brothers I trust in God that all the problems will be solved,” Baradar said, speaking in Pashto.

“I ask all our countrymen to be sure there is no need to worry. Everyone will be treated very well,” he added.

During their time in power from 1996-2001, the Taliban banned music and girls’ education and carried out public executions in Kabul’s football stadium. Fatefully, they also allowed Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda to establish a base in the country.

The Taliban’s role in Afghanistan after a possible peace settlement has not been defined and the group has refused to meet with the government led by President Ashraf Ghani, regarding it as illegitimate.

At the end of the latest round of talks, U.S. negotiators said progress was made over the eventual withdrawal of foreign troops, and on assurances from the Taliban that they would not allow their homeland to be used again by foreign militant groups to mount terrorist attacks in other countries.

“We assure the neighboring, regional and other countries that the upcoming system will not be against anyone, we are not under the influence of anyone, and have no aim of harm to anyone,” Baradar said.

Baradar also offered a message to Taliban fighters, saying that even though he felt the group had achieved political and military victory, they should remain composed and not become arrogant.

The Taliban controls more territory than at any time since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that followed al Qaeda’s Sept. 11 attack on the United States.

U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who led the U.S. delegation in Qatar, said in a series of tweets on Tuesday that it was “clear all sides want to end the war.” Further talks are expected later this month.

Reuters reported 

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Ghani meets with leading politicians to discuss peace process

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(Last Updated On: June 21, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani met with the country’s political and jihadi leaders on Monday morning who stressed that the peace process is a priority for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and that “all further steps in this process, will be taken with the necessary understanding and consensus.”

Present at the meeting were Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation; Hamid Karzai, former president; Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, former Jihadi leader; Mohammad Sarwar Danesh, Second Vice President; Mohammad Younus Qanuni, former vice president; Fazl Hadi Muslimyar, Speaker of the Senate; Mir Rahman Rahmani, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Mohammad Karim Khalili, leader of the Islamic Unity Party; Mohammad Ismail Khan, a member of the leadership of the Islamic Jamiat of Afghanistan; and a number of other senior politicians and officials.

According to a statement issued by the Presidential Palace (ARG), the politicians also agreed a united front was necessary.

“It was also emphasized at the meeting that a united front and a strong political consensus were necessary to strengthen peace and stability, strengthen the republican system and support the country’s security forces and make strong use of the strong popular support for the republican system to consolidate stability,” ARG said.

Participants at the meeting also discussed Ghani and his entourage’s planned visit to the United States, which they called “significant.”

On Sunday, the White House announced that Ghani and Abdullah were scheduled to travel to the US on June 25.

US President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with the Afghan leaders to discuss continued US-Afghan cooperation, as well as the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

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US, Turkish military chiefs discuss diplomatic presence in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 21, 2021)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone on Sunday today with Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar to discuss bilateral cooperation and maintaining continued diplomatic presence in Afghanistan.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Austin reaffirmed the importance of the longstanding U.S.-Turkey defense relationship and thanked the Minister for the continuing communication and cooperation on peace and security issues.

This comes after reports emerged recently that Turkey has agreed to provide security for and run the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul once all foreign troops have withdrawn.

Turkey stated however that there were conditions attached to their offer.

In an interview with TRT this weekend, Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar said Afghanistan welcomes Turkey’s offer to run the airport.

“We believe that this will be essential for continuation of Turkish and NATO as well as the international community’s support to Afghanistan. This is going to be important for the diplomatic community in Kabul and it’s also important for international assistance to Afghanistan,” he said.

He also said that he believes the new system will see Turkey as the lead nation in protecting the airport and might be supported by other NATO allies including Hungary.

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Civilians killed in roadside IED explosion in Paktia

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(Last Updated On: June 21, 2021)

At least four people were killed and five others were injured in a roadside explosion in Paktia province on Monday morning, officials said.

Hayatullah Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the Paktia police, said the incident took place in the Tala area of Machalgho in Ahmadabad district when a car hit an IED.

He said it was not yet known if the dead included women and children.

Ahmadzai said that most of the mines in the area had been planted by Taliban militants on the roads, causing harm to civilians.

Locals meanwhile said the victims had included women and children who had been on the way to the funeral of a soldier killed in fighting in the area on Sunday night.

The Taliban has not commented on the incident.

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