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Stoltenberg says NATO will face dilemma over Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 6, 2021)

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday evening at a press conference that 2021 will be a “pivotal year for NATO because we need to decide on our presence in Afghanistan.”

Stoltenberg said next month defense ministers will meet to decide but that the organization will face a dilemma. He said it was critical to make sure that Taliban break all ties with international terrorists, including al-Qaeda.

He said the organization welcomed the peace talks taking place between the Taliban and Afghan Republic but added: “There are many challenges, and many uncertainties, but of course, the peace talks are the only path to peace, the only way forward to a peaceful negotiated solution.

“We support those efforts, but at the same time we know that we will be faced with a very difficult dilemma,” he said.

“Next month, NATO’s defence ministers will meet, and they need to decide whether to remain, whether to stay in Afghanistan with our military presence, and then risk being engaged in a prolonged military presence in Afghanistan, or whether to leave, but then risk that Afghanistan once again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists,” he said.

On the issue of a conditions-based withdrawal and whether the Taliban had indeed met those conditions, set out in accordance with the US-Taliban deal signed in February last year, Stoltenberg said: “The more important thing is that we need to make sure that Afghanistan doesn’t once again become a safe haven for international terrorists.

“We have to understand that the reason why we went in to Afghanistan back in almost 20 years ago was the attack on a NATO ally, the 9/11 against the United States, and Taliban has committed in the agreement with the United States to make sure that they don’t work with, they don’t support, they don’t help in any way provide any framework support for international terrorists.

“So the most important condition is to make sure that Taliban meets that requirement, that they break all ties with international terrorists, including al-Qaeda.

“We will of course assess the situation on the ground, we will assess the development in the peace talks and then make our decision,” he said.

But he stated that NATO will “have to be honest and say that that will be a dilemma, it will be difficult. It is, of course, a challenge to stay.

“We have been there for almost 20 years.

“To continue to be militarily involved in Afghanistan is challenging, it has a price and we need to be prepared to stay in a difficult military operation.

“On the other hand, if we leave, then we risk that the gains we have made over the last years, preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for international terrorists, that those gains are lost,” he said.

Stoltenberg pointed out that withdrawing will be a “very difficult decision” but its one that all the alliance nations need to make together “because whatever we do, we need to do it in a coordinated and well-planned way.”

He then singled out Germany and thanked them for their strong commitment to the mission in Afghanistan.

“Germany leads the NATO presence in the north, and Germany really understands that our presence in Afghanistan is about protecting ourselves, our own countries against terrorist attacks.”

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Peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential: Erdogan

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2022)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday highlighted the importance of peace and stability in Afghanistan, saying it is essential in terms of threats and risks.

“Peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential in terms of common threats and risks, beyond our humanitarian duty for our Afghan brothers,” Erdogan said in a joint press conference with Pakistan’s prime minister in Ankara.

Erdogan said Turkey and Pakistan will continue to work together to “eliminate the effects of the humanitarian crisis faced by the Afghan people.”

The Turkish leader also commented on the situation in Afghanistan as he said establishing “peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential in terms of common threats and risks, beyond our humanitarian duty for our Afghan brothers.”

He said they will continue to work together to “eliminate the effects of the humanitarian crisis faced by the Afghan people.”

Erdogan also pointed to the solidarity and mutual cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan and reiterated Ankara’s support for Islamabad’s counter-terrorism efforts.

“We have always seen Pakistan’s pain as our pain, its joy as our joy and its success as our success,” he said.

For his part, Pakistani PM Shahbaz Sharif proposed extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), inviting Turkey to join the multi-billion-dollar project.

“China and Pakistan are great friends and we are experiencing and enjoying the benefits of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under the Belt and Road Initiative of (Chinese) President Xi (Jinping). I would suggest let this be a cooperation between China, Pakistan, and Türkiye,” Sharif said, calling it a “wonderful joint cooperation.”

Sharif also said such cooperation among the three nations “will bring prosperity and progress in this entire region.”

“This will help the alleviation of poverty and unemployment. This will promote education and this is how we can really meet the challenges of today,” the Pakistani prime minister said.

Sharif said he will be “very happy” to talk to his “Chinese friends.”

“If we can move in this direction, I think, this would be a wonderful opportunity to really capitalise” he added.

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UN, Uzbekistan discuss Int’l Group to negotiate with IEA government

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2022)

Deputy head of UNAMA and Uzbekistan’s foreign minister have discussed implementing an initiative to set up an International Group to negotiate with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government.

“We discussed situation in Afghanistan, implementing initiative to set up an International Group to negotiate with Afghan government to agree algorithm for the earliest fulfilling of mutual obligations of the parties,” Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov said on Twitter Friday.

Meanwhile, UNAMA said on Friday its deputy head Markus Potzel concluded his series of meetings with government officials in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on additional regional support to the Afghan people.

“UNAMA will continue its work with all regional actors to assist efforts for a meaningful peace in Afghanistan,” UNAMA said on Twitter.

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UN rights agency’s remarks on floggings an insult to Islam: IEA

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Friday condemned remarks by a spokesperson of the UN Human Rights Office on floggings and said the comments were an insult to Islam.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office, in a statement on Friday said the agency was “appalled by mass floggings in public by the de facto authorities of 14 people in Logar province on Wednesday, and calls for this abhorrent form of punishment to cease immediately.”

The statement added that corporal punishment constitutes a form of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which is prohibited under both the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

The statement noted that Afghanistan is a State party to both.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for IEA, reacted and said that the remarks were an “insult to Islam and violation of international principles.”

“Countries and organizations should not allow self-interested people to make irresponsible and provoking remarks on Islam and its rules on their behalf,” Mujahid said on Twitter.

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