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Taliban remain vague and non-committal about peace talks: Abdullah

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(Last Updated On: May 3, 2021)

Afghanistan’s chief peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah says there is currently no contact between the Afghan Republic’s talks teams and the Taliban’s representative and that the group continues to remain “vague” on the future of negotiations.

In an interview with VOA, Abdullah, who is chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, was asked whether there was any contact between the two teams. His answer was a definitive “No!”

“They leave their positions vague. They say, ‘We want the establishment of an Islamic system,’ but don’t explain what that means. How will the leaders be elected or selected? They want an Islamic Council. Is it elected? If elected, on what basis? They don’t share,” he said.

Abdullah also stated that different groups of Taliban make contact from time to time. “Sometimes they send notes. The messages are mainly the same. Even in the letter (sent to politicians recently), the position is very vague, and you cannot tell whether it is the position of one group or all.”

He also said that with the announcement of the withdrawal of foreign troops, the Taliban’s “position has changed.”

“Their chief negotiator has gone to Pakistan to consult with their leaders, to take directions, to shape up their position. Earlier their position was that they are going to attack the international forces.

“So, as far as the Doha process is concerned, it is still important. So are other opportunities like the conference in Turkey [the Istanbul conference]. It has to be a meaningful event, and both sides have to come to an understanding to make it effective,” he said.

The Taliban has however until now refused to attend the Istanbul Conference, saying they will only participate once all foreign troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan.

“If they don’t come to a meeting, which is supposed to be between both sides, then the conference will not take place. They haven’t said that they are not coming. They haven’t said that they are coming. That has been the problem negotiating with the Taliban all along. They always keep their position vague,” Abdullah said.

On the withdrawal of troops, Abdullah said there is concern that the “Taliban position might get further emboldened” after foreign forces leave.

“Well, as far as their excuses, or the reasons that they were giving, that it is because of the presence of the international forces, it’s ‘jihad’ against foreigners and so on and so forth, so, in three months time, perhaps in less than three months time, there will be no foreign troops on our [Afghanistan’s] soil.”

He also said he “hopes” and “wishes” the Taliban want peace adding “otherwise, the war will continue.”

Abdullah stated that a civil war cannot be ruled out but said: “Let’s not lose hope because it will be a worst-case scenario. So, at this stage, the whole focus should be on how to make it (peace) work.”

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Afghan acting FM heads to Doha for talks with US

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting foreign minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), on Tuesday left Kabul for Doha for talks with US officials.

Officials from the ministry of finance and Da Afghanistan Bank, the country’s central, bank is accompanying Muttaqi in the visit.

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry, said that the delegation will meet with the US special envoy for Afghanistan and officials from the US Department of the Treasury.

He said that political, economic and banking issues will be discussed in the meeting.

This comes as the Washington Post reported on Tuesday that US officials are working with IEA leadership on a mechanism to allow Afghanistan’s government to use its central bank reserves to deal with a server hunger crisis, aiming to avert a humanitarian disaster.

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Russia working on IEA ties, Putin says in Tajikistan

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Moscow is trying to build relations with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).

Putin, during his visit to Tajikistan, also said Russia wants to see all ethnic groups in Afghanistan take part in running the country.

“We are doing everything so that the situation in that country normalizes,” Putin said in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. “We are attempting to build relations with the political forces that control the situation.”

“We are working from the premise that all ethnic groups in Afghanistan, as was already said, must properly participate in running the country,” he said.

Putin’s statement came after a meeting with President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan during the Russian leader’s first trip abroad since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict.

Tajikistan shares a border with Afghanistan and Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the possibility of militants infiltrating the former Soviet republic.

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US to provide $55 million in additional aid for immediate earthquake assistance: Blinken

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(Last Updated On: June 28, 2022)

In response to the deadly earthquake that struck eastern Afghanistan last Wednesday, the United States, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), will provide nearly $55 million in immediate humanitarian assistance to meet urgent needs of people affected. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday the United States would provide the additional funds for immediate humanitarian assistance. 

The new funding brings total US humanitarian assistance to over $774 million in the last year, Blinken added.

According to a statement issued by USAID on Tuesday, this additional assistance includes support for USAID partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to continue to reach earthquake-affected people with urgently needed shelter materials, water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies, and other relief items. 

“These vital supplies include emergency shelter kits, cooking pots, jerry cans for water collection and storage, blankets, solar lamps, clothing, and other household items. In addition, this support will provide hygiene kits, menstrual hygiene supplies, and water treatment kits. 

“Given that the area impacted by the earthquake was already experiencing an acute watery diarrhea outbreak, this relief will help mitigate a larger waterborne disease outbreak in the aftermath of this disaster, when there is greater risk given the lack of access to safe water,” the statement read. 

The US response came just hours after the United Nations launched an emergency appeal for $110 million to provide lifesaving assistance to more than 360,000 Afghans who were affected by last week’s earthquake in Paktika and Khost provinces.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said early Tuesday that the new appeal is part of this year’s Humanitarian Response plan, which calls for $4.4 billion, but is massively underfunded at just over one third.

“We and our partners are borrowing supplies, personnel, and resources from other humanitarian programmes,” UNOCHA said in a statement.

Wednesday’s earthquake killed over a thousand people and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes in Paktika and Khost provinces.

“I’m appealing to the world — please help. We need money. We need funding. We need support to resolve this tragedy,” Ramiz Alakbarov, UN resident relief coordinator for Afghanistan, said in a video message while visiting an area in Paktika province.

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