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US Ambassador ‘Strongly Welcomes’ Release of Taliban Prisoners

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(Last Updated On: November 13, 2019)

The U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, John Bass, welcomed the release of three Taliban prisoners including Anas Haqqani, a key member of the Haqqani Network.

John Bass told Ariana News on Tuesday that Washington hopes the move results in reduction of violence and beginning of peace talks to end the ongoing war in Afghanistan which has continued for too many years.

“The United States Government sees this courageous decision by President Ghani as an example of the strength of the Islamic Republic and of Afghan security forces, and the latest in a series of steps taken by President Ghani and the Government to respond to the Afghan people’s overwhelming desire for peace,” the U.S. Ambassador said.

Bass hoped that the Taliban respond to this “important humanitarian gesture with their own humanitarian gesture” in the coming days by releasing the Afghan security forces prisoners and western hostages that they currently hold in captivity.

However, he emphasized that the United States will continue its strong support for Afghanistan, regardless of how the Taliban may respond.

The ambassador’s comments come hours after President Ashraf Ghani, in a televised press conference, confirmed that Anas Haqqani, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid, three top Haqqani Network commanders, have been “conditionally released” in exchange for the release of two foreign university professors who were kidnapped by the Haqqani Network in 2016.

Ghani added that the negotiation was made in close cooperation with the U.S. in order to pave the way for face-to-face negotiations with the Taliban.

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Govt refusing to fall victim to Taliban’s extortion tactics

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(Last Updated On: March 1, 2021)

The Presidential Palace (ARG) stated Monday that neither the Afghan government nor independent sources that fund development projects or provide aid will fall victim to Taliban extortion tactics.

According to ARG, the decision not to pay bribes to Taliban in insecure areas across the country was discussed at a national procurement session on Sunday.

ARG said some villages are being deprived of aid because of the Taliban’s habit of demanding bribes.

ARG also stated that it is not prepared to give Taliban money that is meant to alleviate the plight of the people.

According to ARG out of 11,000 villages across the country that were identified to benefit from government-assisted projects, only 10,000 villages benefitted.

ARG’s statement came on the heels of a Facebook post by First Vice President Amrullah Saleh early Monday who raised the issue after his daily 6.30am security meeting.

He stated that sources of funding for these villages will not be held to ransom by the Taliban in order to gain access to insecure areas.

“This anti-human performance by the Taliban has left a number of villages in the country deprived of aid,” said Saleh.

He said 1,000 villages have not received the necessary aid as government has “faced a security problem and we are not ready to share the bread of the people with blackmail terrorists.”

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Women playing key role in peace talks: Fatima Gailani

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(Last Updated On: March 1, 2021)

Fatima Gailani, a member of the Afghan Republic’s peace negotiating team said on Sunday women play a key role in achieving and sustaining peace and have through history helped with conflict resolution.

Addressing an online panel discussion on ‘Inclusivity and Diversity in the Afghanistan Peace Process’, organized by the Afghan Women’s Educational Center (AWEC) and the UN Women, Gailani said studies conducted in the field of peacebuilding would open a clear window for everyone to better understand the situation and capacities in the country.

The discussion started with the introduction of a study on the active role of women, especially local women, in the Afghanistan peace process and peacebuilding efforts.

Referring to the activities of female members of the negotiating team on working committees, Gailani said the role of these women has been influential and important.

Gailani praised women’s resilience in the face of problems they face and said that through history, Afghan women have played a role in conflict resolution.

According to the State Ministry for Peace, Gailani stressed the important role of women in Islamic countries in the Afghanistan peace process and the importance of their support of Afghan women.

“Peace makes sense with the active presence of women, as human rights and women’s rights, war victims’ and minorities’ rights must be acceptable to all parties and should be preserved in the process.”

She also said the support of the international community was extremely important and valuable for Afghan women.

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Afghanistan marks 100 years of diplomatic ties with Turkey

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(Last Updated On: March 1, 2021)

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Afghanistan and Turkey on Monday, Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar said that Turkey has had a key role in the country’s reconstruction and joint counter-terrorism efforts post-2001.

Addressing an event to mark the occasion Atmar said he hopes Turkey will maintain its sincere cooperation with the peace efforts in Afghanistan.

“As we celebrate the centennial of the establishment of our diplomatic relations, we wish to further develop our cooperation in every aspect in this special year; hope that the ongoing violence in Afghanistan comes to an end and lasting peace and calm will prevail in the country,” Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said that so far, Turkey has made comprehensive contributions to Afghanistan both on a bilateral level and through the efforts of the UN and NATO.

“Turkey’s development assistance program for Afghanistan is currently one of the largest assistance programs towards a country,” read the ministry’s statement.

The diplomatic and political relations of Turkey and Afghanistan commenced on March 1, 1921 through the signing of Turkey-Afghanistan Alliance Agreement.

Afghanistan at the time became the second country to recognize the Turkish Grand National Assembly of the time, which had been struggling to counter aggressive invasions of the Allied Powers.

Meanwhile the Turkish Embassy in Kabul was the first diplomatic mission in Kabul. This distinguished friendship, extracted from kinship, brotherhood and sisterhood, promoted the relations through the following decades.

This comes after Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan submitted a motion to parliament at the end of last year to extend the deployment of Turkish troops in Afghanistan for 18 months as part of NATO’s support mission, according to sources.

Turkey has about 1,200 soldiers in Afghanistan under the NATO mission.

“Turkey, which has deep friendship and brotherhood ties with Afghanistan, has always backed the unity, integrity and independence of Afghanistan,” the statement read.

The motion will be debated in parliament after December 18, as local media Anadolu Agency reported.

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