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U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks Resumes Amid High Expectation of Breakthrough

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(Last Updated On: August 24, 2019)

The ninth round of peace talks between the U.S. and Taliban representatives began on Thursday, August 22nd in Doha, the capital of Qatar, a spokesman for the Taliban Zabihullah Mujahid said.

The NATO and U.S. forces commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller was among the U.S. delegation led by Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation.

Sources familiar with talks said that the presence of the U.S. intelligence in Afghanistan, the release of Taliban prisoners and the level of officials signing the peace agreement were among the major issues discussed.

Meanwhile, Jack Keane, a retired American four-star general said that full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan by 2020 is a central part of the U.S.-Taliban talks and the U.S. seeks Taliban guarantee Afghanistan is not going to be used as a launchpad for global terror assaults.

He claims that the deal would be made during the next week but fears Taliban credibility for not supporting Al Qaeda.

This comes as Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani said on Thursday night that partial withdrawal of U.S forces will not impact Afghanistan and that 2019 Presidential Election would be held under any circumstance, an issue Taliban regard as an obstacle for a peace deal.

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Arghandiwal claims he was sacked after opposing AOP contracts

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2021)

Former finance minister, Abdulhadi Arghandiwal, who was fired last week by President Ashraf Ghani, said on Monday that circles within the Presidential Palace (ARG) worked to have him ousted after he refused to approve contracts.

“Some circles in ARG worked in their personal interests to stop me from working. I asked the President to tell me directly everything, not by other circles,” said Arghandiwal.

This comes two days after Ghani fired Arghandiwal and approved a new acting minister.

According to ARG, the reason for Arghandiwal’s dismissal was the delay in collection of taxes; failure to cooperate with an assessment team investigating illegal appoints at the ministry; poor management’ a lack of commitment to good governance; not abiding by Article 77 of the constitution; and for violating decrees and directions issued by ARG.

Arghandiwal meanwhile said on Monday at a press conference that he had been dismissed because he opposed the procurement of different types of meat at inflated prices for the Administrative Office of the President (AOP) and he had disagreed with officials over an oil contract.

“Ten days ago a session of national procurement was held and I told the session that we can’t approve a contract that has 18 types of meat as our soldiers don’t even have water on the battlefield; President Ghani also rejected it. The second was an oil contract; oil in bazaars is 34 AFNs but on the contract it was 41 AFN. I opposed this,” said Arghandiwal.

This comes after a member of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) claimed that the AOP had gone ahead and procured 18 types of meat and vegetables worth 30 million AFN, in a move that sparked criticsm.

ARG has not yet commented.

Arghadiwal had been a close ally of Ghani during his previous election campaigns and was recently approved by the Wolesi Jirga as finance minister.

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US to consult with govt after reviewing deal with Taliban

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani said at a cabinet meeting on Monday that Washington will hold consultations with the Afghan government once the new Biden administration has reviewed the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February last year.

Ghani’s announcement comes a few days after the new US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib over the phone.

After their phone conversation late Friday, Sullivan stated Washington would review the deal.

Ghani meanwhile said on Monday that the discussion between the two NSAs shows the Biden administration recognizes the Afghan government and the Afghan security and defense forces as a strategic counterpart.

“The US will review the Taliban pact quickly and after that will hold consultations with the Afghan government to reach a roadmap,” said Ghani.

Political analysts, meanwhile, said that the increase in violence by Taliban and warnings issued by government are not convincing in terms of securing peace.

“They sit for peace in Qatar but discuss war and violence… they should stop the killing of Afghans,” said Wahid Faqiryar, a political analyst.

“I think the US will tell both sides (Taliban and government) to start peace talks again,” said Tariq Farhadi, another analyst.

On the other hand, close sources to the Taliban say the US will decide on whether to also engage in peace talks.

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Italian Embassy vehicle targeted in IED explosion in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2021)

An armored Land Cruiser belonging to the Italian Embassy was targeted in an early morning IED explosion in Kabul’s PD4 area in yet another targeted attack.

This time there were no casualties reported, police confirmed.

Security sources confirmed the Land Cruiser belonged to the embassy. Police stated a second vehicle, a Toyota Corolla, was also damaged in the explosion. 

This vehicle belonged to the Ministry of Economy. 

According to sources, no casualties were reported.

The incident happened at around 7.35am in Parwan-e-Do area of Kabul. 

This comes just a day after a senior official of De Afghanistan Bank, (the Central Bank) was targeted in an IED explosion in Kabul.

The bank said in a statement that Abdullah Dawrani, the head of the Financial Dispute Resolution Commission, was the target in an IED explosion at around 8.15 am on Sunday morning.

According to the statement, Dawrani was wounded and his bodyguard was killed in the blast.

The bank stated that another person was also injured in the explosion, which occurred in the Shah Shaheed area of PD8 of the city but did not reveal the person’s identity.

No group has claimed responsibility for either of the attacks.

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