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US to Begin 7th Round of Talks with No Changes on Taliban’s Position

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(Last Updated On: June 15, 2019)

The seventh round of direct talks between U.S. and Taliban negotiators will begin in the near future in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

On this round of talks, the U.S. chief negotiator Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is eyeing to include the intra-Afghan dialogue and a ceasefire on the agenda as well.

However, sources familiar with the talks say that the Taliban will only negotiate over foreign troops withdrawal from Afghanistan in return for their pledge not to welcome foreign extremists.

Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen, a pro-Taliban analyst said that the Taliban delegation will not negotiate over internal issues even if Khalilzad bring the issue of ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue up at the meeting.

Mawlawi Qalamuddin, a former Taliban official added that following the seventh round of talks, Germany and Qatar are expected to host the intra-Afghan dialogue where the representatives of the Afghan government cannot participate.

The U.S. peace envoy, who is in Kabul meeting with representatives from different walks of society, is expected to finalize the timetable of foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan and Taliban’s guarantees that they will not welcome foreign extremists.

However, Khalilzad has also stressed that all talks would take place in accordance with the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

“We expect that the Taliban accept the launch of an intra-Afghan dialogue to have a result. Without intra-Afghan dialogue, peace is not possible,” said Abdul Rahman Wardak, a lawmaker from Wardak province.

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Four policemen killed in Farah motorbike bomb blast

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

At least four policemen were killed and 22 others wounded in a blast in southwestern Farah province. 

The incident took place in PD^4 in the provincial capital Farah city at around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the blast occurred after an explosive-laden motorbike hit a police vehicle in the city.

Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah police told Ariana news that civilians were also among the casualties.

Immediately no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack. 

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Taliban warns of ‘planned attack’ by Daesh militants against freed prisoners

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

Taliban on Wednesday warned the Afghan government of a possible Daesh attack against the group’s 400 remaining prisoners.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said in a statement that “based on accurate intelligence reports and documents, the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) warns that there exists a grave security threat against the safety of the remaining prisoners to be released from Pul-e-Charkhi prison.”

According to Mujahid, Daesh plans to carry out a coordinated attack against the Taliban prisoners once they are freed from the Kabul prison.

“A group of Daesh gunmen in coordination and cooperation with Kabul administration intelligence, some military personnel, and prison check post commanders plan to conduct an attack against vehicles that are to transfer the remaining released prisoners,” Mujahid added.

However, sources in the National Directorate of Security (NDS) have rejected the Taliban’s “baseless” claims, saying that they are committed to providing the security of the Taliban prisoners.

He claimed that Daesh aims to disrupt the negotiations process and “exact revenge on the prisoners.”

The group urged the Afghan government to take “preventative measures” and accomplish the prisoner transfer process with “utmost care and safety.”

“If God forbid, anything unfortunate were to happen then all those sides will be held responsible who have shown negligence in this regard,” the statement concluded.

This comes just days after President Ashraf Ghani signed the release order of the 400 controversial Taliban inmates.

The decision was made after Ghani called for a Loya Jirga, or grand council, which voted in favor of the militants’ release following two days of consultations.

So far none of these prisoners have been released.

The National Security Council, which is tasked with the job of arranging the release process, has not yet provided details about when the prisoners will be freed.

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Concerns raised around peace talks after journalists have Qatar visas rejected

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

The Afghan media on Wednesday voiced concern over the upcoming intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha after Qatar visas for local journalists were not approved.

Members of the public also objected to the move saying talks should not be held behind closed doors and that the people of Afghanistan have the right to be kept up-to-date on the details of negotiations.

A group of local journalists was expected to travel with the official Afghan negotiating team to Qatar this week for the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations on Sunday.

However, the government has not yet commented on the visa issue.

A member of the Access to Information Commission meanwhile said that this was a serious concern.

“The presence of journalists should be a condition for negotiations so that they bring any decisions made about the fate of the people to light,” he said.

Initially reports indicated the Afghan talks team, led by Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, would leave Kabul, along with the group of journalists, on Wednesday.

However, the negotiating team will now only leave Thursday.

The Afghan negotiating team met with President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday to discuss issues around the upcoming peace talks with the Taliban.

Stanekzai briefed Ghani following the Loya Jirga’s decision on Sunday in favor of releasing the final 400 Taliban prisoners – which had been a stumbling block in the way of kick-starting negotiations.

Stanekzai stated Tuesday they will sit around the negotiating table with the Taliban as a united team in favor of “the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” and they will consider the interests of the people.

Meanwhile, Ghani said the Loya Jirga had drawn a peace roadmap for government, and that they are “committed to the implementation of that.”

“We are committed to peace, the goal is to end the war in a fundamental way,” Ghani added.

He said the peace talks team will negotiate a suitable and fair peace deal with the Taliban as it is in the best interests of the people.

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