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Afghanistan ‘ready for’ next month’s donor conference 

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(Last Updated On: October 7, 2020)

Afghanistan and its foreign partners in Kabul have officially launched preparations for the 2020 Afghanistan Conference – the last pledging summit of the Transformation Decade. 

The event on Tuesday was attended by representatives of more than 70 countries and international organizations, along with representatives from civil society groups. 

The November conference is the last pledging conference of the Transformation Decade (2015 to 2024), which was in place to help Afghanistan become self-reliant, and is expected to renew international community and Afghan commitments to the development and stability of Afghanistan up to 2024.

The conference will be held over two days, November 23 and 24, but the main conference will take place on day two, with side events to discuss key challenges and accomplishments for Afghanistan occurring the day before.

The Afghan Minister of Finance, Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, in his opening remarks on Tuesday, said: “The 2020 Afghanistan Conference presents a unique opportunity to work together with a strong commitment to the principles of aid effectiveness and mutual accountability for improved transparency, legitimacy, as well as effectiveness. 

“Progress on mutual accountability is all the more important and both the government as well as our international partners must hold themselves and each other accountable for use of development resources and for development results.”

President Ashraf Ghani, who is currently in Doha, Qatar, said in a recorded message: “The process of preparing for the conference has provided us, as partners, an opportunity to have a comprehensive and detailed discussion on Afghanistan’s past, present, and future development trajectory. 

“More specifically, the conference will be an opportunity to signal to the Afghan people the international community’s continued partnership with Afghanistan. The constructive conversation will be continuous, focusing on policy and implementation until and after the conference,” he said. 

The conference will also devise a second version of the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF-II) which provides vision, strategy and plans for development for the 2021-25 period and is organized around the three pillars of market-, state-, and peace-building. It will form the foundation of a new aid framework.

“Preparations for the 2020 Afghanistan Conference are well underway, in good cooperation with our co-hosts the Government of Afghanistan and UNAMA. At this extraordinary time, it is more important than ever that the development partners continue their strong support to the Afghan people and ensure the long-term development of the country on its path to peace, prosperity and self-reliance,” said Janne Taalas, Finland’s Special Envoy to the 2020 Afghanistan conference. Finland is co-hosting this year’s conference. 

UNAMA meanwhile said in a statement that with the recent start of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, there are new opportunities and hope for Afghanistan and the Afghan people.

“As critical peace talks progress in Doha, the international community recommits its stand with the Afghan people to ending the war and building a better future with stability, sound governance and greater economic opportunities,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

More than 70 countries, international organizations and Afghan government officials, as well as civil society representatives, are expected to take part in the conference.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference will be organized in a hybrid format. The option for online participation will be provided to conference delegates and an open live webcast will be available.

 

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Uzbeks refuse to return military aircraft flown from Afghanistan last year

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(Last Updated On: April 30, 2022)

Uzbekistan authorities say dozens of aircraft flown into their country in August last year, during the collapse of the former government, belong to the United States and will not be returned to the interim government in Kabul.

Afghan air force personnel flew almost 50 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to Uzbekistan in mid-August as former president Ashraf Ghani fled the country and Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) forces took control.

Several more aircraft and Black Hawk helicopters were also taken to neighboring Tajikistan.

The IEA has however repeatedly requested that these aircraft are returned to Afghanistan.

But in a recent interview with VOA, Ismatulla Irgashev, a senior presidential adviser, said the aircraft would not be going back to Kabul.

“The U.S. government paid for them,” said Irgashev, his nation’s most senior diplomat dealing with Afghan matters. “It funded the previous Afghan government. So, we believe it is totally up to Washington how to deal with them.

“We’ve kept this military equipment in agreement with the U.S. and have told the Taliban (IEA) so.”

Little has been said since about the issue, in part because of the sensitivity of the issue in Uzbek-Afghan relations and the reluctance of officials on all sides to discuss it, VOA reported.

But U.S. defense officials confirmed to VOA that both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have no plans to give the aircraft to the IEA.

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Blinken and Austin visit Kyiv; announce assistance package to Ukraine

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(Last Updated On: April 25, 2022)

The United States announced new military assistance for Ukraine and a renewed diplomatic push in the war-ravaged nation as President Joe Biden’s secretary of state and Pentagon chief completed a secrecy-shrouded trip to Kyiv.

In the highest-level American visit to the capital since Russia invaded in late February, top envoy Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Ukraine’s president, Volodomyr Zelenskyy, and his advisers that the U.S. would provide more than $300 million in foreign military financing and had approved a $165 million sale of ammunition, the Associated Press reported.

They also said Biden would soon announce his nominee to be ambassador to Ukraine and that American diplomats who left Ukraine before the war would start returning to the country this coming week. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv will remain closed for the moment.

Austin and Blinken announced a total of $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries; some $322 million is earmarked for Kyiv. The remainder will be split among NATO members and other nations that have provided Ukraine with critical military supplies since the war with Russia began, officials said.

U.S. officials said they believed the new assistance would satisfy at least some of the Ukrainians’ urgent pleas for more help. New artillery, including howitzers, continues to be delivered at a rapid pace to Ukraine’s military, which is being trained on its use in neighboring countries, the officials said.

 

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UN chief heading to Turkey ahead of Moscow, Kyiv visits

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(Last Updated On: April 24, 2022)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Ankara before heading to Moscow next week to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and then to Ukraine for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a UN statement said on Saturday.

Guterres will visit the Turkish capital on Monday, where he will be received by President Tayyip Erdogan, the statement said.

The UN aid chief, Martin Griffiths, said on April 18 that Turkey was a valuable host for humanitarian talks between Ukraine and Russia.

Eri Kaneko, Guterres’ associate spokesperson, told a news briefing on Friday that Guterres would head to Moscow on Tuesday and meet Putin as well as have a working meeting and lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, hoping to discuss what can be done to bring peace to Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The United Nations also said on Friday that Guterres would meet with Zelenskiy on Thursday, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and staff at UN agencies to discuss the scaling up of humanitarian assistance efforts.

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