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US-Taliban Talks Reach Critical Stage

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(Last Updated On: July 1, 2019)

The U.S. and the Taliban negotiations over the withdrawal timeline of the foreign forces from Afghanistan, the intra-Afghan dialogue, and a ceasefire is at a critical stage.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman of Taliban’s Qatar office told Ariana News correspondent in Doha that it is the final round of talks between the Taliban and the U.S. negotiating teams.

Shaheen added that the two sides will release a joint statement if they reach a final agreement.

“During the last six rounds of talks, we discussed a lot of issues and resolved the differences. On this round of talks, efforts are underway to finalize the agreement and announce it,” Shaheen said.

He stated that any disagreement over the timeline of foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan and the upcoming presidential election can damage the ongoing peace process.

“There are a couple of issues that will be discussed today. We can talk about those issues after the negotiations. After resolving those issues, the agreement will be ready for announcement,” Shaheen added.

However, he confirmed that the issue of direct talks with the Afghan government is not resolved yet.

In addition, the Taliban official denied giving an exact response when he was asked if they want an Islamic Emirate or the Islamic Republic if they reach a peace deal.

But he insisted that an Islamic system is the will of all Afghans in the country.

The insurgent group spokesman further said that Washington has agreed that they do not recognize the Taliban as a terrorist group anymore.

This comes as the U.S. delegation headed by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban delegation headed by Shir Abbas Stanekzai are holding their seventh round of direct talks behind closed doors aimed at ending the 18-years of the Afghan violence.

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Withdrawing without Taliban commitment to peace would be “rash”: former NATO SCR

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(Last Updated On: June 7, 2020)

Former NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, Sir Nicholas Kay, has warned that withdrawing international troops without a full Taliban commitment to peace would be “rash”.

In an interview with the Forces News, Kay said, “It would be very rash for us to have a comprehensive military withdrawal from Afghanistan before there is a comprehensive political peace agreement.”

The US and Taliban signed an agreement for bringing peace in Afghanistan on February 29, in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

According to the deal, the Afghan government would release up to five thousand Taliban and the US forces would leave Afghanistan within 14 months after the deal.

In exchange, the Taliban militant group would release 1,000 prisoners of the Afghan government and it promised to stop al-Qaeda operating in the areas of its control.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Kay told the Forces News that the only commitment on the NATO side is “for this first stage of withdrawal down to 12,000 and then there would be a stocktake.”

Kay, however, said that the deal is conditions-based, adding, “If the Taliban do not live up to their commitments, then there will not be a deal.”

“Those commitments have to be demonstrated,” he noted.

One of the commitments the Taliban are expected to fulfill is the reduction of violence, but this is not the reality at the moment.

“Yes, the Taliban stopped attacking coalition forces. Yes, they stopped attacking high-profile targets in cities […] but they were killing Afghan security forces, Afghan civilians in rural areas [and] districts across the country at a very high rate.”

The next step of the process, the former ambassador explained, should be the beginning of actual negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and the wider Afghan society.

Earlier, sources said that the first round of talks between the Afghans is scheduled to take place on June 15, but sources close to the Taliban have said that talks would not begin unless all 5,000 Taliban prisoners are released.

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MFA Afghanistan denies Pakistan’s claim that India supports Pakistani Taliban

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(Last Updated On: June 6, 2020)

The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied Pakistan’s claim that India is cooperating with the Pakistani Taliban on the Afghan soil.

After India said Pakistan was a safe haven for terrorist groups in the region; Pakistan now claims that India supports the Pakistani Taliban on Afghan soil and is using them against Pakistan.

Moreover, Pakistan believes that India obscures the situation in Afghanistan.

Ayesha Farooqi, the spokeswoman for Pakistani Foreign Ministry said that India wants to divert the world’s attention from its support for the Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan adding that In fact, India is trying to muddy the Afghan peace process.

In the meantime, Kabul has reacted strictly to Pakistan’s remarks. In a statement, the Afghan Foreign Ministry denied Pakistan’s claim that India supported the Pakistani Taliban and its activities against Pakistan, assuring that Afghan territory would never be used against any country.

“No group is allowed to use Afghan territory against another nation. We urge countries in the region to cooperate in the Afghan peace process and play a constructive role,” the statement said, “lasting peace in Afghanistan means that terrorist groups cannot pose a threat to the region.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, supports India’s policy toward Afghanistan, saying that New Delhi has played a key role in the recent peace efforts between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

“I believe that New Delhi’s policy of avoiding any engagement with the Taliban has had its day, especially in view of the upcoming launch of intra-Afghan talks and eventual transformation of the Taliban movement into an influential legal political force in Afghanistan,” said Kabulov.

However, after the signing of the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban, there are signs of the emergence of other militant groups.

The Afghan government says the anti-government militants have direct Pakistani support; while Pakistan claims to have played a key role in the peace efforts.

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Coronavirus in Afghanistan; 582 new cases, 19,551 total

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(Last Updated On: June 6, 2020)

The Coronavirus in Afghanistan grows with the course of every day – a total of 582 infections have been reported, with 18 deaths, in the past 24 hours.

The total number of the Coronavirus cases in Afghanistan has reached 19,551, and the Ministry of Public Health says if people do not cooperate, the number of people infected with the virus will increase dramatically.

“In the past 24 hours, 761 samples have been tested, of which 582 have been positive, 18 patients died and 68 others recovered,” said Wahidullah Majrooh, MOPH deputy minister.

Meanwhile, the MOPH emphasizes that if people want to decrease the risk of the virus, they should pay serious attention to the medical instructions.

The ministry underlined that there weren’t sufficient gears to effectively fight the virus in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, the government has extended the restriction on movement for another three months.

Officials from the ministries of Labor and Social Affairs, Interior Affairs, Public Health, and the Governor of Kabul have presented a new quarterly plan in a joint meeting to impose restrictions on movements in the city.

According to the government’s new quarterly plan, it is mandatory to wear a mask, avoid social gatherings, prevent elders from leaving the home, and follow the health guidelines.

Also, service providers must perform their activities with strict health care measures.

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