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Abdullah says Afghan leaders need to unite over peace talks

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(Last Updated On: May 2, 2021)

Afghanistan’s chief peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah said the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country was not the “end of the world for our people”, but that the exit will present “huge challenges”.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Abdullah said the Afghan leadership now needs to stand united in the peace talks and that the focus now needs to be on the negotiations.

“I wouldn’t call it (withdrawal) the end of the world for our people. I would say that it will be very challenging and that’s why I am of the opinion that the whole focus has to be on achieving peace,” he said.

Abdullah also said he is unconvinced the Taliban want peace. He said the High Council for National Reconciliation, of which he is the chairman, has put out countless calls for the Taliban to put all their demands on the table.

Messages go back and forth between a variety of Taliban to senior negotiators, including himself, said Abdullah. He noted that he has received countless messages from Taliban officials, some written, some as voice messages. Sometimes they are detailed, and other times terse and brief. But he said he has yet to see a commitment to peace from the insurgent group on which he can rely.

Abdullah said his response to the Taliban has been consistent: “Put everything that you want on the negotiating table. We are ready to discuss it. We are ready to find ways that it works for both sides.”

He said the withdrawal adds pressure on both sides to find a peace deal.

Abdullah said an “inclusive, peaceful settlement, this is what everybody believes in. … God forbid if we don’t have peace then, of course, nobody has forgotten the recent history of the country. So everything has to be done in order to mitigate the serious consequences of the withdrawal.”

Abdullah questioned assurances Washington has received from the Taliban to reject terrorist groups, particularly al-Qaeda, the reason Washington and NATO invaded 20 years ago.

“What has happened to al-Qaeda?” he asked. “That’s a big question.”

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US, UAE diplomats meet to discuss Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2024)

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West met with UAE’s deputy envoy for the United Nations, Mohammad Abu Shahab, discussing the latest developments in Afghanistan, it was announced on Friday.

The sides also discussed empowering Afghan women and girls, and the full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2721, co-penned by the UAE and Japan, UAE Mission to the UN said in a post on X.

The 2721 UNSC resolution adopted in December last year, calls for the appointment of a UN special envoy for Afghanistan, a suggestion objected by the Islamic Emirate.

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Top former US general claims Daesh-Khorasan is ‘on the upswing’

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2024)

Retired General Joseph Votel, former chief of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), has claimed that Daesh-Khorasan is on the upswing, and that the US doesn’t have much on the ground to help reduce the risk.

“ISIS-K is on the upswing right now,” Votel said, Business Insider reported. “And we don’t have much on the ground to help reduce that risk that this organization poses.”

Before withdrawal from Afghanistan, Washington had significant intelligence capabilities on the ground and the ability to conduct kinetic strikes against the group. But this “mowing-the-grass” approach to counterterrorism, Votel said, has since paved way for a stronger and more resilient Daesh-K that’s focused on projecting its influence elsewhere.

The US still has the ability to gather meaningful intelligence in the region, although Votel said these capabilities are likely diminished from what they previously were. But it’s very important, he stressed, that the US continues to dedicate resources toward the threat and make it a priority.

One way for the US to do this is to work with regional partners around Afghanistan, such as Pakistan or states in Central Asia, to increase collaboration and the exchange of information with regard to violent extremism, Votel said. Another method would be for lawmakers to reauthorize a powerful surveillance tool known as Section 702, which is set to expire later this month.

“It doesn’t take very long for these organizations to rise up and become more capable,” retired Gen. Joseph Votel, who oversaw military operations in the Middle East in the 2010s, said.

This comes as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) says that Daesh has been suppressed and does not have the ability to launch attacks from Afghanistan against any country.

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Lightning strikes in Helmand kill one, injure three

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2024)

One person has died and three others have been injured by lightning strikes in southern Helmand province, officials said.

Abdul Bari Rashid, director of information and culture in Helmand, told Ariana News that lightning occurred in the provincial capital Lashkargah, and Gereshk and Babaji districts.

According to him, one person died in the lightning and three others including a woman and two children were injured.

Meanwhile, floods triggered by heavy rains have caused financial losses in Sangin district of Helmand.

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