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Afghan-Taliban peace talks resume amid violence

Kabul: The negotiating team of the Afghan government left for Qatar on Jan 5 where they will resume the second round of the peace talks with the Taliban.

The second round, which will begin after a three-week break, will focus on a ceasefire and reduction in violence in the war-torn country, TOLO News reported.

Taking to Twitter, Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said: “The Republic’s Negotiation Team will depart tomorrow (Jan 5) as it was planed, to Doha to begin the second round of peace talks with Taliban. The team enjoys the full support of the republic and has the mandate to discuss the peace agenda.

“We are committed to achieving a lasting peace and ask the Taliban to do so. We are looking for a successful second round.”

The peace negotiations, which formally kick-off in September 2020, witnessed a breakthrough last month after the two sides agreed on procedural rules for the talks.

According to TOLO News, in its draft of demands, the Afghan government’s team has added ceasefire, preservation of national sovereignty, media freedom and the prohibition of activity by foreign fighters in the war-torn country.

Meanwhile, the Taliban’s demands include an Islamic government structure, establishment of an Islamic council, and ensuring women’s rights and the rights of all citizens based on Islamic principles.

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Nepal politics, Nepal Parliament, K.P. Sharma Oli, Bidya Devi Bhandari, Nepal Communist Party

Kabul: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has invited the Taliban to Kandahar province to engage in a discussion for bringing peace to the war-torn country, the media reported.

Addressing an event held in the province, the president said that if the Taliban is willing to bring peace, they can come to Kandahar to hold talks with the negotiating team of the Afghanistan government, TOLO News reported.

Ghani said that the Afghan people will not allow a further release of Taliban prisoners, as the group has not reduced violence.

“Now that they (Taliban) ask for the release of another 2,000 (prisoners), will you (people) allow their release? No. We saw that the bloodshed did not stop. They must stop the bloodshed so we can talk,” the president said.

Referring to the recent attacks by the Taliban in various parts of Kandahar, Ghani pledged that the Afghan security forces will restore security for the people in the province.

According to the Afghan leader, the militant group last year destroyed 16 per cent of the nation’s wealth in the ongoing war.

The Kabul team returned from Doha, where the peace talks took place since September 12.

The Taliban has opposed Ghani’s call to hold the next round of the peace negotiations in Afghanistan, saying the request signals fear on the country’s side.

The two sides also confirmed to have exchanged their lists about the agenda of the peace talks and that the next phase of the discussions will begin on January 5, 2021.

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Doha talks will be difficult: Abdullah

By The SATimes News Service

Kabul:¬†Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, has said that the talks between the government and the Taliban will be difficult, stating that the Afghan team will face issues that will require hard decisions to be made.

“I don’t say that these talks will be very simple, these talks will be very hard. We will face issues that will need hard decisions to be made,” TOLO News quoted Abdullah as saying in a recent statement.

“But the delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has gone to Qatar with the support of the government and politicians,” he added.

Abdullah also pledged that all the achievements of the last 20 years will be preserved during the negotiations.

“Citizens’ rights, women’s rights, human rights, victims’ and minorities’ rights, justice and freedoms that were achieved through many sacrifices, will be preserved in these talks,” he said.

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Afghan peace process: Khalilzad seeks Pak’s help

By The SATimes News Service

Islamabad: US special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad met Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on September 14 to pave the way forward in the Afghan peace process.

Khalilzad appreciated Pakistan’s “sincere and unconditional support” for Afghan peace, adding that the peace process would not have been possible without Islamabad’s support.

“All elements of national power are united towards making that vision a reality to ensure long-awaited peace, progress, and prosperity in the region”, stated an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release quoting the Pakistan Army Chief.

Interestingly, Khalilzad did not meet Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan or Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and only had a meeting with the Pakistan Army Chief and Ambassador Sadiq.

It is believed that the quick trip of Khalilzad to Pakistan is to seek Islamabad’s help to press the Taliban and compel them to announce a long-term ceasefire during the first round of talks in Doha.

The Afghan government has been asking for a long-term ceasefire to the Taliban and has kept this point on top of its agenda during the ongoing talks in Doha.

However, the Taliban have not yet announced a truce as they came to the negotiating table.

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