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Mark Frerichs released after IEA and US agree to prisoner swap

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2022)

A top Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) official, Haji Bashir Noorzai, has been released after almost 20 years in Guantanamo Bay. He arrived in Kabul on Monday.

He was one of the last Afghans detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, according to sources.

According to the IEA’s foreign minister, the US freed the official on Monday in exchange for American engineer Mark Frerichs.

“Haji Bashir was released after two decades of imprisonment and arrived in Kabul today,” said Mohammad Naeem, an IEA spokesperson based in Doha, in a Tweet.

Haji Bashir Noorzai was detained and accused of bringing more than $50 million worth of heroin into the United States.

Speaking at a gathering on Monday, Bashir Noorzai said that his exchange for the American citizen Mark Frerichs will help resolve problems between Afghanistan and the US.

He also called on the world to talk to the Islamic Emirate and choose the way of negotiation.

Noorzai’s attorney denied that his client was a drug dealer and argued that the accusations against him should be dropped since American government agents had deceived him into thinking he would not be detained.

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul, foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi informed the media that they had swapped Frerichs on Monday morning and received Haji Bashir Noorzai, who had spent nearly two decades in prison after being accused of drug offenses.

“The way of force, war and coercion never gives results,” Muttaqi said in the conference. He emphasized on talks and negotiations to solve all the issues, because according to him, this matter has been proven by the Doha Agreement.

Frerichs, a veteran of the U.S. Navy from Lombard, Illinois, spent ten years working on development projects in Afghanistan. He was kidnapped at the start of February 2020.

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First cargo flight takes place from UAE to Balkh since IEA takeover

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(Last Updated On: February 23, 2024)

For the first time since the Islamic Emirate’s takeover, a flight from the United Arab Emirates to Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi Airport in Mazar-e-Sharif city was carried out through the air corridor, officials said.

The airport officials said that sixteen tons of commercial goods, including electronic devices related to Bayat Power company were transferred from Dubai to Mazar-e-Sharif city.

“This is the first time that a flight from Dubai to Mazar-e-Sharif has been made through the air corridor; discussions with traders are ongoing and we hope to keep this corridor active in the future,” said Abdullah Motmaen, director of customs of Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi Airport.

Meanwhile, Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Investment officials stress the beginning of the general process of transferring commercial commodities by air corridor.

“In the transfer of commercial goods, air corridor is so important,” said Asadullah Asadi, head of Balkh’s chamber of commerce and investment.

Earlier, through the air corridor of Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi Airport, Pine nuts and other commercial items were exported to the countries of the region.

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IEA will attend future UN meetings if demands accepted: deputy PM

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(Last Updated On: February 23, 2024)

Deputy Prime Minister for Political Affairs Mawlavi Abdul Kabir has called the recent decision of the United Nations for the participation of the Islamic Emirate at the second Doha meeting on Afghanistan “unfair” and said that if the demands of the IEA are accepted by the UN and countries in future meetings, the acting government will participate on behalf of Afghanistan, the deputy PM’s office said in a statement.

Abdul Kabir made these statements on Thursday at a graduation ceremony in Kabul.

Kabir added that “Afghanistan, as an independent country and Islamic Emirate as a legitimate Islamic system, assures all its neighbors and the international community that the acting government is striving for economic and development cooperation based on a balanced and moderate policy.”

He also stressed that there would be no threat to anyone from Afghanistan.

While fighting against drugs and corruption, sustainable stability can only be guaranteed under the rule of the Islamic Emirate, which Afghans and the international community have understood, according to the statement.

He stated that with the arrival of the Islamic Emirate, the national budget was prepared from internal revenues for the first time, and in addition to paying the expenses of civil administrations and development projects, the expenses of the Islamic Army and security departments are also paid from the national budget.

The second meeting of special representatives of countries regarding Afghanistan was held on Sunday and Monday of this week in Doha, in which the delegation of the Islamic Emirate did not participate.

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Strong consensus on collective interests in Afghanistan exist: Thomas West

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(Last Updated On: February 23, 2024)

Thomas West, the US special envoy for Afghanistan, described the recent UN meeting in Doha as productive, emphasizing a strong consensus on collective interests in Afghanistan, including the desire to see women and girls return to secondary school, university, and work.

“No country wants to see the emergence of a terrorism threat from Afghanistan. All want to see women and girls return to secondary school, university, work, and public life,” West stated in a post about the conference.

West also noted the international commitment to the Afghan people, highlighting the effort to provide humanitarian aid to over 26 million Afghans last year. However, he expressed concerns about sustainability and the need for an approach that empowers Afghans economically.

The envoy acknowledged the Islamic Emirate’s enforcement of a poppy ban, which the UNODC reported resulted in a 95% reduction in cultivation. He underscored the need for more coordination in supporting alternative crops for farmers and recovery for addicts.

West appreciated the participation of Afghan civil society members, both from within and outside Afghanistan, discussing economic needs, human rights, and the importance of continued engagement, including with the Taliban.

Regarding future steps, West welcomed the continuation of the current meeting format and calls for a UN-led process to develop a roadmap for Afghanistan’s full integration into the international community. “The Afghan people’s well-being, and the international community’s shared interests, must guide this work,” he concluded.

The second meeting of special representatives for Afghanistan was held on Sunday and Monday in Doha. The Islamic Emirate did not participate.

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