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Abdullah calls for dialogue and decisions, not speeches, at Istanbul summit



(Last Updated On: March 25, 2021)

Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), said this week he hopes “tangible progress” will be made towards a peace settlement at the Istanbul meeting scheduled for April.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview, Abdullah said the presence of decision-makers expected to attend the meeting needs to be utilized to push accelerate the settlement of issues in Afghanistan.

“There have been a lot of discussions between both sides in the past few months in Doha. The Doha process will continue and then we have the Istanbul meeting. The Istanbul meeting will be held at a high level.

“There will be top leaders of Afghanistan and Taliban — that’s how it is anticipated,” Abdullah said.

He also urged that the Istanbul opportunity should not be used to give speeches; instead, it should focus on working for “tangible progress.”

“The final, final, final agreement, of course, it takes time, but we should at least agree on few principles. And an agreement on a cease-fire will be very, very important,” Abdullah added.

Anadolu reported that Abdullah emphasized that it was time to go beyond the US – Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February last year that stipulates the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan by May 1. He sought to cut a deal directly between the Afghan government and the Taliban, reported Anadolu.

He said the Taliban’s readiness to move ahead would be tested in the coming days, underlining that Afghan government is ready to have direct agreements.

“Eventually, it has to be a comprehensive agreement between us, there is something between the US and the Taliban, but eventually, we need to agree. The readiness of the Taliban remains to be seen. It will be tested before the meeting in Turkey,” said Abdullah.

Asked about a possible offensive the Taliban might launch if the US fails to fulfill its obligations, Abdullah said the Afghan sides should not be dependent on the US and should work together to end the presence of foreign troops in the country.

“That [Taliban’s threat to resume hostilities] is unfortunate because eventually, we should sort out this among ourselves. We should find a solution, which will work for both sides. And if there is peace, then there is no need for the presence of the international troops,” he told Andadolu.

“In a peaceful Afghanistan, why do we need international troops? If this is the aim of the Taliban, that there shouldn’t be foreign troops in Afghanistan, the way to achieve it is to work together as Afghans and prepare the ground for that. That is my message,” Abdullah said.

He said that the US would maintain its course regarding Afghanistan’s peace process under the new Biden administration.

“On the support of the peace process, the US policy is the same. They support the peace process. And also, they want to see military arrangements, if not tomorrow, then someday in the near future. They also need to respond to the urgency of the need for peace. It’s more urgent for the people of Afghanistan to achieve peace because of the suffering of the people. Should this be the case, they will continue their efforts, enhance their activities with the countries in the region. They want the UN to be involved in it, and we will continue to work together with them,” said Abdullah.

He admitted that the Afghan government has a different view on some points, including the idea of an interim government, which has been made clear to Washington.

He told Andadolu that the Afghan government favors the signing of an agreement with the Taliban ahead of conducting elections. He described this as a “principled position.”

“It is very premature to talk about it [interim government]. These issues have been raised and are also part of that paper that was shared with us by the Americans. We responded to that,” he said.

Abdullah said the Taliban has not yet responded to the US State Department’s letter on the issue of an interim government but said Afghanistan had pointed out weaknesses and raised concerns about various aspects of the letter.

“We said it helps if we could agree on some arrangements before going to the election with the Taliban. If the Taliban wants to go directly to election, get to an agreement and then have elections, that is also not impossible. As long as we can get an agreement,” he said.

About the meeting conducted in Moscow on March 18 and 19, Abdullah said the parties used the opportunity to exchange views on different points informally to better understand each other’s positions and concerns, Anadolu reported.

He stated the Taliban entered Russia using the Afghan passports issued by the Afghan embassy in Qatar for the members of the negotiating team.

“The Taliban talked about their own views, and we talked about ours. And we had an opportunity to get together. It was not a negotiation but, in a sense, that both sides are at the same place, so why not get together, to express a few things in the sort of informal way,” he said.

Abdullah said the statement adopted at the end of the meeting could be assessed as “good”, saying it meets the Afghan people’s expectations.

“The parties should have used the opportunity, which was there. Especially when the whole world, the people of Afghanistan are demanding us to get to a cease-fire and a comprehensive peace settlement,” he told Anadolu.

He noted that the countries that participated in the extended “Troika” comprising Russia, China, the US, and Pakistan asked what the people of Afghanistan are demanding.

“The message for both sides was very clear. I think it will help. But that depends again on both sides,” Abdullah said.

Turkey Summit

In a separate report by Anadolu, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said this week that the Istabul summit next month is not meant to replace the Doha talks..

This comes after he met with Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, in Brussels on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting this week.

Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that he and his US counterpart will discuss the date for the summit with all parties concerned.

Earlier this week, President Ashraf Ghani said he would attend the summit if the Taliban’s leader Hibatullah Akhundzada also attends the event.

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Grand assembly to discuss ways to improve economic, social conditions: Hanafi



(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

The grand assembly of religious scholars, scheduled to begin Thursday, is expected to discuss ways to improve economic and social conditions, Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy prime minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said on Wednesday.

Hanafi said people from various ethnic groups and with different views will sit for discussion, which is a positive step in maintaining stability and strengthening national unity in the country.

 “After years, Afghans from various sections and ethnic groups and with different views sit with each other for discussion without foreign interference,” Hanafi said in an interview to RTA. “It is in itself a positive and valuable step for maintaining stability and strengthening national unity.”

He said that more than 3,000 people will participate in the gathering under the mega Loya Jirga tent in Kabul.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the IEA, also said that the gathering will be held under tight security measures.

He said that all technical preparations have been finalized and there will be several committees discussing key issues.

It will be the largest gathering in Kabul after the IEA took over in August last year. 

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Two political figures and one doctor return to country 



(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

Following the efforts of the Contact Commission with Afghan Personalities, Hasibullah Kalimzai, a former Senate member, General Habibullah Ahmadzai, an ex-advisor to President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Wardak, one of the country’s medical specialists, returned to Afghanistan on Wednesday.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) leaders said Wednesday that attempts are underway to make many other political figures return home.

In the meantime, returnees have expressed their satisfaction at making this decision.  

Kalimzai said he returned to the country after the commission’s call, adding that one of his wishes is to see the reopening of girls’ schools. 

“All women and girls should have equal rights to go to school, and I will continue my political activities; this is my homeland,” he added. 

Likewise, Habibullah Ahmadzai, an ex-advisor to Ghani, said that if the leaders of the former government had listened to his advice, the situation in the country would have been different.

He said: “If they (leaders of the former regime) had listened to what we had said, there would have been no problem, and now that we have arrived, we have returned home with the intention of cooperating with the Islamic Emirate.”

Meanwhile, dozens of Afghan political figures have returned to the country after the establishment of the Commission for Contact with Personalities and have been warmly welcomed by the Islamic Emirate.

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Afghan acting FM heads to Doha for talks with US



(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting foreign minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), on Tuesday left Kabul for Doha for talks with US officials.

Officials from the ministry of finance and Da Afghanistan Bank, the country’s central, bank is accompanying Muttaqi in the visit.

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry, said that the delegation will meet with the US special envoy for Afghanistan and officials from the US Department of the Treasury.

He said that political, economic and banking issues will be discussed in the meeting.

This comes as the Washington Post reported on Tuesday that US officials are working with IEA leadership on a mechanism to allow Afghanistan’s government to use its central bank reserves to deal with a server hunger crisis, aiming to avert a humanitarian disaster.

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