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Talks ‘waste of time’ unless Taliban implements truce: Ahmadzai

Kabul: The peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban are a “waste of time” as long as the radical movement fails to implement its commitment to reduce violence and implement a ceasefire, Haji Nazir Ahmadzai, a senior adviser to the Afghan president on the Reconciliation of Political Parties and Tribes, told Sputnik in an interview.

“Until the ceasefire is reached, the talks don’t work, it’s just a waste of time,” Ahmadzai said.

Commenting on why the second round of talks was delayed, the presidential aide said that Kabul’s delegation has been in Doha, Qatar’s capital which hosts the negotiation, “for a long time,” ready to continue the talks.

“But unfortunately the Taliban have been on foreign trips and have delayed talks,” he added.

“You see, the Taliban did not implement to their promise of a ceasefire, the Taliban escalated the violence, blew up the cities, and escalated the fighting, which is unacceptable [both] to the international community and to the Afghan nation,” Ahmadzai said.

According to the official, the Afghan delegation will ask US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, to “call a ceasefire in the peace process.”

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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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Afghan peace talks must resume on Jan 5: Khalilzad

Kabul: US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has said “it is imperative” that the peace talks between the negotiating teams of the Kabul government and the Taliban “must resume on January 5 as agreed”.

Khalilzad’s remarks came after the two sides confirmed to have exchanged their lists about the agenda of the peace talks, which were formally launched on September 12 in the Qatari capital, and that the next phase of the discussions will begin on January 5, 2021, reports TOLO News.

Earlier, the two teams mutually agreed to a three-week break.

Taking to Twitter, the special envoy said: “Unfortunately, the war continues. The need for a political understanding, reduction in violence and a ceasefire remains urgent.

“Due to what is at stake, it is necessary that there be no delay in the resumption of talks and resume on January 5, as agreed.”

He also confirmed the two sides were taking a break to “consult on the agenda items”.

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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Afghan peace: Khalilzad seeks Pak military help

Islamabad: US special representative for Afghan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is in Islamabad to seek Pakistan military’s support towards a political solution to the ongoing unrest in Afghanistan.

Khalilzad, who landed in the capital on Nov 2, met Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Rawalpindi where detailed discussion on the “regional security situation and Afghan peace process” was discussed.

“Regional security situation and Afghan peace process — with particular reference to border management — as well as a way forward for a lasting peace in Afghanistan were discussed during the meeting,” stated the official press release of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The ISPR maintained that Khalilzad appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in facilitating the peace through dialogue process forward. While the ISPR press release did not share more details into the meeting, analysts say that the increase in short visits of Khalilzad to Pakistan are aimed at seeking help in persuading the Taliban for a ceasefire in Afghanistan.

“The flurry of visits by the top US diplomat is part of efforts to convince the Taliban for a ceasefire of at least reduction in violence,” stated Kamran Yousaf, a senior analyst.

However, the Taliban till now have refrained from agreeing to announce the ceasefire, maintaining that it would be part of the overall agreement that may be reached through the intra-Afghan dialogue, which are currently going on in Doha.

Even though Intra-Afghan dialogue is in process, terror attacks and loss of innocent lives have continued unabated in Afghanistan.

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Ghani, Khalilzad, US general discuss Afghan peace

Kabul: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and American Commander Gen Scott Miller held a meeting in Doha to discuss the peace in the war-torn country.

The meeting took place as Ghani embarked on a two-nation trip earlier in the day to Qatar and Kuwait, reports TOLO News.

In a series of tweets after the meeting, Khalilzad said: “I told the President that Afghans should not let the opportunity for peace to slip away. He said he supports the Islamic Republic negotiators doing their work as long as it takes. I said I’m encouraged by what I heard from all sides, including the two teams’ commitment to peace.

“We call on all nations, especially the neighbors and other key players, to do the same.

“A significant reduction in violence will save lives; increase trust; broaden support for peace; and help the negotiating teams make progress at a faster pace. This is what the Afghan people want. And the US stands with them.”

Also, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said that Khalilzad and Gen Miller met the militant group’s deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar and discussed the implementation of the Doha agreement, calling it “significant for the resolution of the Afghanistan issue”.

The opening ceremony for the intra-Afghan talks was held on September 12, but the two sides were yet to begin direct negotiations, TOLO News reported.

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India-US cooperation possible over Afghan dialogue: US envoy

By The SATimes News Service

New Delhi: Washington and New Delhi discussed “future steps” and “possible cooperation” in the ongoing intra-Afghan peace dialogue as the US Special Representative on Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Harsh V. Shringla in New Delhi Tuesday.

India has maintained all through the peace process that it will not directly negotiate with the Taliban. However, in a major development, diplomatic sources said India has agreed with the US that the latter should remain present in Afghanistan unless a “permanent ceasefire” is achieved between Kabul and the Taliban.

During the meeting Tuesday, the sources said, both sides deliberated on ways “to promote regional and international cooperation with regard to Afghanistan”.

“The United States and India share the view that the peace process must continue until there is agreement on a political roadmap and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire. The Afghan sides should ensure their territory must not be used by any terrorist group against any other country,” said a statement issued by the US Embassy.

It added, “Ambassador Khalilzad stressed regional and international support is critical for the success of these negotiations and the implementation of any agreement. India and the United States will work together in support of this objective.”

The US and the Taliban had signed a so-called “peace deal” in February this year that seeks to bring an end to years of conflict in Afghanistan, which has been reeling under decades of war. Under the deal, the US and the NATO allies have agreed to withdraw all their forces from the war-torn country, two decades after the US invaded Afghanistan in light of 9/11 to hunt down al-Qaeda.

At the Taliban’s instance, the peace deal didn’t involve the Afghan government.

However, the deal set the stage for an intra-Afghan dialogue — between the Ashraf Ghani government and the Taliban — which began last week in Doha, Qatar. India was among the participants at the opening of the dialogue, which is aimed at establishing a power-sharing deal that will help end decades of war in the country.

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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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Afghan govt releases 317 Taliban prisoners

Kabul: The Afghan government has released 317 Taliban prisoners in the past two days, bringing the total to 4,917, the National Security Council said.

“Release will continue until the total reaches 5,100,” TOLO News quoted the Council as saying in a tweet.

The August 2nd release came after President Ashraf Ghani on July 31 ordered the release of 500 Taliban prisoners in response to the group’s three-day ceasefire announcement.

Ghani said the 500 prisoners would be released within the next four days.

The completion of the prisoner exchange was part of the agenda of US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s meeting in Kabul on July 29.

The Taliban has also completed the release of 1,000 government prisoners as per the peace agreement it signed with the US in Doha in February.

A spokesman of the group, Suhail Shaheen, said that they freed 82 prisoners on July 28, bringing the total to 1,005.

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Khalilzad ‘optimistic’ about start of intra-Afghan talks

Kabul: The US peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said he was “optimistic” about the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations between the Taliban and the Kabul government.

At a recent press conference, Khalilzad said: “We’re optimistic that finally we are moving forward to the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.”

Khalilzad was also hopeful that the violence will stay low in the war-torn country, reports TOLO News.

“I believe we are in a more hopeful moment that validates our approach,” said Khalilzad, citing the Eid ceasefire called for by the Taliban, which was reciprocated by the government.

“By all accounts violence was down dramatically during Eid,” the US envoy said.

He also said that about 2,500 Taliban prisoners have been released since the US and Taliban signed the agreement in February.

On the political crisis in Afghanistan, Khalilzad said: “The political crisis in Afghanistan that produced two presidential inaugurations, now it’s been resolved, and the two leaders are working together on an agenda for peace.”

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