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US urges Afghan government, Taliban to begin prisoner releases

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(Last Updated On: March 19, 2020)

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad said Wednesday that the United States would like to see prisoner releases begin as soon as possible in line with the U.S.-Taliban agreement. 

Khalilzad said in a tweet that so far no prisoners have been released to date despite the commitment to do so expressed by both sides.

“Coronavirus makes prisoner releases urgent; time is of the essence. We are committed to do our part and after consultation with all relevant sides, the United States understands,” he noted.

Khalilzad said that the technical teams from both sides can work together and focus on technical steps to begin prisoner releases as soon as possible. 

“I will participate in the initial meetings,” he added.

“While preferable to meet face-to-face, Coronavirus and the resulting travel restrictions likely requires virtual engagement for now,” said Khalilzad, calling on all sides to avoid provocative media statements.

The US official further said, “The time has come to move forward on prisoner releases.”

“The Taliban commit that released prisoners will abide by the commitments made in the peace agreement and not return to the battlefield. A violation will undermine the peace process­,” Khalilzad tweeted.

On February 29, the US and Taliban delegations signed a deal in Doha, the capital of Qatar in which the release of 5000 Taliban prisoners by 10th of March was highlighted. In exchange, the group would also release 1000 Afghan soldiers who are in the Taliban’s captivity.

President Ashraf Ghani signed a decree on March 11 to release 1500 Taliban prisoners, a move to pave the way for the start of the intr-Afghan dialogue, which was scheduled for March 10 that has not held so far.

According to the decree, the remaining 3500 prisoners would be released after a tangible reduction in

violence by the Taliban and all released prisoners will have to give “a written guarantee to not return to the battlefield.”

The Taliban reject Ghani’s release plan saying that the group had never agreed to the conditional release of the 5,000 prisoners from Afghan jails.

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Otunbayeva meets acting head of TVET in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: February 6, 2023)

The head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) emphasized the need for the inclusion of women and girls in vocational education on Monday in a meeting with Ghulam Haider Shahamat, acting head of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

In this meeting, Roza Otunbayeva said that vocational training is necessary for the economic development of Afghanistan and women and girls should be included.

Shahamat also expressed that technical and vocational education is effective for poverty alleviation and the growth of the country’s economy.

“The Technical Vocational Education and Training has 383 institutes and high schools all over Afghanistan, which operate in 250 districts and have 6850 staff,” said Shahamat.

Meanwhile, some experts say that Afghanistan needs to develop and create job opportunities for everyone, especially women and girls, and all international institutions play a constructive role for Afghanistan’s progress.

“All organizations which work under the framework of the United Nations can have positive roles in Afghanistan,” said Sarah Rahmani, women rights activist.

In this meeting, the head of the United Nations Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) was also present and emphasized on signing an agreement and creating a joint working group between both institutions.

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Afghanistan’s central bank to auction $17 million this week

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(Last Updated On: February 6, 2023)

Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) has announced that it will auction $17 million on Wednesday as part of the efforts to stabilize the value of the Afghan currency against foreign currencies.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the Central Bank of Afghanistan asked qualified private banks and exchange companies to participate in the auction.

The winners of the auction are obliged to settle their accounts by the end of the day. As per the announcement, partial settlement of transactions is not allowed and the winners of the auction are obliged to transfer the payable amount to the central bank in cash within a certain time.

This is the second time in a week the central bank is auctioning US dollars to keep the value of Afghani stable.

The exchange rate was 90 AFN to the US dollar on Monday, February 6, 2023. The central bank sold $16 million on Sunday.

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Russia has no plans to close its embassy in Afghanistan, says envoy

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(Last Updated On: February 6, 2023)

Russia has no plans to close its diplomatic mission in Kabul, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department Zamir Kabulov told TASS on Monday.

Earlier, the Al-Arabiya TV channel reported that the authorities of several Arab and Western countries decided to close their diplomatic missions in Kabul because of security threats.

“Such thoughts have not even occurred,” Kabulov said, when asked whether Russia had such plans.

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