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Afghan delegation leaves Kabul for talks with Taliban in Doha

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(Last Updated On: July 16, 2021)

A delegation led by Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, on Friday afternoon left Kabul for Doha, the capital of Qatar, to hold talks with the Taliban as the militants’ offensives dramatically increased across Afghanistan.

The delegation includes Former Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili; Head of the splinter faction of the Jamiat-e-Islami Party Ata Mohammad Noor; Islamic Republic Chief Negotiator Masoom Stanekzai; President Ghani’s Adviser Salam Rahimi; State Minister for Peace Affairs Sadat Mansoor Naderi; Bator Dostum and Fatima Gailani members of peace negotiating team.

However, the agenda of the talks is not clear so far. Abdullah noted that the Afghan team has fully authoritative and that a ceasefire is a priority in the talks with the Taliban delegation.

“On behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, an inclusive delegation is leaving for Qatar, a number of esteemed members of the delegation are currently in Qatar and some are going with us. I thank the support that resulted from a political consensus on the deployment of this delegation. This delegation represents the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” Abdullah said.

“The people of Afghanistan in different parts of the country are suffering from the tragedy of continuing the war. Today, war is raging in several provinces of Afghanistan. But your question will be, ‘when the war is going on, why are you talking about peace’, yes, because the war is going on intensively, and this war has been going on for 42 years in our country and hundreds of thousands of our people sacrificed their lives, so then we must work for providing peace.”

He added: “God willing, we hope that the Taliban side will see this as an opportunity and know that there will be no peace with continues or capturing of a district or areas. The result of peace can only be achieved from the negotiating table, despite all the pain that our people are suffering today, and there is pressure to focus on war, we still believe that there is still a chance for a peace that should be acceptable to all.”

Former president Hamid Karzai, who accompanied the delegation until the Kabul airport, stated that he fully supports the Afghan team.

Sources, meanwhile, told Ariana News that Karzai is expected to visit Islamabad to meet with Pakistani officials on Saturday.

Taliban stated that a delegation, led by the head of Taliban’s political wing Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, will negotiate with the Afghan team in Doha.

The development comes a day after US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Washington continues to believe the only solution to Afghanistan’s problem is a political settlement and in line with this the Afghan government is sending a senior delegation to Doha.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Price stated: “We have been very clear about this, that we continue to believe the Islamic Republic – that is to say, the Afghan Government continues to believe that diplomacy is the only durable and just way to reach a political settlement here.

“I won’t speak for the Taliban, but they continue to engage in that diplomacy in Doha. The Islamic Republic, the Afghan Government is sending a senior delegation to Doha. The special envoy (Zalmay Khalilzad) and his team are engaged, supporting these intra-Afghan discussions in Doha,” Price said.

“We continue to believe – and the international community continues to believe, including if you look at recent statements from some of our closest allies, but also from countries with whom we share little else – that this diplomatic path is the most effective, and certainly the best path to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.”

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IEA, US meet in Doha to discuss freeing of Afghanistan’s frozen assets

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

A senior Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) delegation, led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, headed to Qatar on Wednesday to hold talks with US officials to release some of the $9 billion of frozen reserves. 

According to a Washington Post report, US officials have tried to set up a system for assets to be managed, while simultaneously erecting safeguards to ensure the funds are not siphoned off for misuse by the IEA.

One option discussed by those close to the talks involves having a third party trust fund administer the money, according to the report.

Bloomberg also reported that the discussion will center around “creating a mechanism for releasing the frozen Afghan reserves.” 

Ahmad Wali Haqmal, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s finance ministry told Bloomberg: “We’re expecting this would be a serious round of talks.”

US officials have expressed optimism about the progress on talks but cautioned that several obstacles to the deal remain.

“It would be accurate to say negotiations are underway,” said Shah Mehrabi, an economics professor at Montgomery College in Maryland and a senior member of  Afghanistan’s central bank board since 2002. 

“We are in the process of trying to come up with a mechanism that will allow the transfer of reserves to the central bank of Afghanistan,” he said.

Mehrabi said food costs have skyrocketed by 18 percent in the past several months. Basic household goods rose in cost by 35 percent during the first few months of the year; in May, inflation for household goods hit 42 percent, Mehrabi said.

“These reserves belong to the Afghan people; they are needed to stabilize prices,” he said. “The faster it is delivered to the central bank of Afghanistan, the sooner we will see the impact of the reduction in prices that are critical to enable ordinary Afghans to afford food, cooking oil, and sugar and fuel. Now, they can’t do that.”

The delegation includes central bank Governor Mohammad Idris and Deputy Finance Minister Nazir Kabiri. They will meet with the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West and officials from the treasury department, Haqmal said.

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‘If Putin was a woman’ he would not have invaded Ukraine: UK PM

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if he were a woman, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday.

“If Putin was a woman, which he obviously isn’t, but if he were, I really don’t think he would’ve embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has,” Johnson said in an interview to German broadcaster ZDF.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is “a perfect example of toxic masculinity”, he said, calling for better education for girls around the world and for “more women in positions of power”.

The British prime minister acknowledged that “of course people want the war to end”, but for the moment “there’s no deal available. Putin isn’t making an offer of peace”.

Johnson’s comments come ahead of a NATO meeting where allies will discuss how to respond to future threats.

Western allies must support Ukraine to enable it to be in the best possible strategic position in the event that peace negotiations with Moscow do become possible, Johnson said.

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

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(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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