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Key actors vow to speed up intra-Afghan talks

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(Last Updated On: June 4, 2020)

The United States, Russia, China, and Pakistan have vowed to speed up the Intra-Afghan Talks process.

The new envoys and representatives of the United States, Russia, China, and Pakistan, spoke at a video conference on speeding up the release of Afghan and Taliban prisoners and voting to begin negotiations between the government and the Taliban as soon as possible.

Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan has said that initial steps had been taken to start direct talks.

“The main result is we will do our utmost together to speed up the exchange of prisoners of war between Kabul and the Taliban and to promote intra-Afghan talks,” the Russian special envoy in Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov said.

He added, “The exchange process is on. It is slower than we would like it to be, but it is continuing and now the need has emerged to hold a preliminary discussion of further steps.”

The Presidential Spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said, “Considerable reduction in violence or ceasefire will lead us to take further steps to start direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. We hope the Taliban enter a new phase.”

The European Union, the British Embassy, and some other European representatives in Kabul have also issued a joint statement urging the government and the Taliban to grant a constructive role for women throughout the peace process.

The statement also stressed the need for the government to announce the time for the Intra-Afghan talks as soon as possible.

Ghulam Farooq Majrooh, a member of the government’s negotiating team, said: “The negotiating team is fully prepared to start negotiations. It is up to the leaders to determine the time and place, and we will be ready to negotiate whenever they say.”

Earlier, sources said that the first round of talks between the Afghans is scheduled to take place on June 15, 11 days later, but sources close to the Taliban have said that talks would not begin unless all 5,000 Taliban prisoners are released.

“The Taliban’s stance so far is that Intra-Afghan talks will begin after the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, according to the list,” said Khalil Safi, head of the Afghan Institute for Peace Studies.

The National Security Council said in a statement that the government had released 2,710 Taliban prisoners and that the list of prisoners released by the Taliban was under investigation.

Since then, there have been no further releases by either side – progress in the matter will spark the beginning of negotiations.

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Exiled Afghan politicians form council, call for talks with IEA

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

A number of exiled Afghan politicians recently gathered in Turkey’s capital Ankara where they formed a council and called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to engage in talks with them.

The politicians met at the residence of former vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum and included Abdu Rab-ur-Rasool Sayyaf, Atta Mohammad Noor, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Karim Khalili, Ahmad Wali Masoud, Mohammad Alam Ezidyar and Mir Rahman Rahmani.

Ehsan Nero, a spokesman for Dostum, said that the meeting was held to exchange views on how “we could change the challenging situation in Afghanistan.”

While urging talks with IEA, the politicians issued a statement and declared support for the conflict that is underway in some provinces in the country.

“Such a large meeting was held in Turkey with the Turkish police providing security. They will meet again in Austria two weeks later and then in Geneva. There is certainly something fishy going on,” said Ahmad Saeedi, a political analyst.

Habibullah Janibdar, another political analyst, however, said that such meetings would not help Afghanistan as Afghans have already tested these politicians.

The IEA meanwhile has already formed a commission to encourage Afghans in exile to return home.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the IEA, said that the “door for talks is already open.”

“We have no problems with any Afghan. We would welcome anyone returning. They would be protected. They would be respected. Their wealth would be safe,” Mujahid said.

“But Allah forbid, if they intend to start a war, then obviously Afghans won’t allow it,” Mujahid warned.

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IEA claims it supports local media but urges them to stick to Islamic values

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Thursday it will support and cooperate with media outlets and journalists, both local and foreign, but urged them to observe Islamic principles and keep the interests of the country in mind.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the IEA’s spokesman said: “Today, the Media Violations Commission resumed its operations and the Information Access Commission will start its activities as soon as possible in the near future.”

He said the IEA is committed to supporting media outlets in the country in accordance with Sharia Law.

However, Mujahid urged media organizations to stick to Islamic values and principles in terms of broadcasting and publishing.

Mujahid said: “The government will continue to support media outlets financially and we will work to reduce the media’s problems to zero. We call on media officials to carry on their operations based on the principles of Islam.”

According to the Ministry of Information and Culture, currently, about 198 media outlets operate in the country, however, nearly 170 media organizations have closed down, largely due to financial constraints, since the collapse of the former government.

Many of these media organizations have lost staff who left Afghanistan after the US troops withdrawal while other, that were reliant on foreign donor money, lost all income.

Media support organizations have said that an estimated 6,000 media workers have left the country since the IEA take over.

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US looking to expand ties with Pakistan: Blinken

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday told Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari that US President Joe Biden’s administration was looking forward to working with the new government in Pakistan and discussed “expanding partnership” between the two countries.

The meeting took place in New York on the sidelines of the food security meeting that the US is hosting in collaboration with the UN.

The meeting between Bilawal and Blinken came against the backdrop of strained ties between Pakistan and the US. The relationship during the PTI government between the two countries remained tense and there had been further dip in ties when former premier Imran Khan directly held the US responsible for his ouster, Pakistan’s Tribune reported.

Blinken said the US was keen to expand partnership with Pakistan on a range of issues covering economic as well as regional security issues.

According to a State Department statement, Blinken met with Bilawal to affirm the shared desire for a strong and prosperous bilateral relationship.

“The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed expanding partnership in climate, investment, trade, and health as well as people-to-people ties,” the statement read.

It further said the two foreign ministers underscored the importance of US-Pakistan cooperation on regional peace, counterterrorism, Afghan stability, support for Ukraine, and democratic principles.

The foreign minister added that as the current chair of the G77 and China, Pakistan welcomed the support of the UN secretary general to the objectives pursued by the developing countries at the global organisation.

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