Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Abdullah Abdullah says he participated at today’s ceremony of US-Afghanistan Joint Declaration as the Chief Executive of Afghanistan, but it will not affect his stance on elections.
Speaking at a press conference after the announcement of a joint declaration between US, Afghan and NATO officials, CE Abdullah praised the efforts made by the US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad for Afghan peace process and urged all Afghans to seize this opportunity.
Abdullah declared that the Taliban, instead of considering the peace deal as a victory, should see it as a step closer to peace.
He emphasized that all focuses will be on peace in the next few days and today’s declaration assured the Afghan people that the international supports continues from the people.
The Chief Executive stressed that engaging in intra-Afghan talks puts everyone in the limelight and he stops all electoral crisis to priorities the peace efforts.
He further added that an Afghan delegation that will be sent for negotiations should be inclusive; otherwise it will not be acceptable.
The European Union considers the conclusion of the Afghanistan-U.S. Joint Statement for Peace and the settlement between the U.S and the Taliban as important first steps towards a comprehensive peace process, with intra-Afghan negotiations at its core.
EU in a press release said that it expects these Afghan-owned and Afghan-led negotiations to start without delay in an inclusive manner and aiming at a lasting peace that could create an environment of security and stability for all Afghans.
According to the press release, the European Union stands ready to facilitate and support the peace process with the aim of preserving and building upon the political, economic and social achievements of the people of Afghanistan since 2001, which should be irreversible.
“The conflict needs a political solution in which human rights, including women’s rights, are respected and common grievances are addressed. The European Union stresses the importance of an inclusive peace process with all political factions, where notably Afghan women and minorities as well as the civil society, are represented in a meaningful manner. Respect for the constitutional order and rule of law is paramount during the process,” the press release reads.
“In this crucial time, unity is essential to master the challenging tasks ahead and for the long-term future of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The European Union calls upon all actors to unite forces for the coming period. It is vital that all people of Afghanistan feel represented in the next government and in peace negotiations. This would help address grievances, including in the context of the recent electoral process, and promote reconciliation. The EU calls on all stakeholders to put the interests of the nation above all other considerations, as the collective responsibility of all Afghan political forces,” the press release added.
The leader of Taliban group, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada in a message said that no official or individual of the group nor anyone from the general public must violate the terms of Peace agreement with US and everyone must deem it an obligation.
After the signing of the peace agreement between US and Taliban, the group’s leader in a message said, “The accord about the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan and never intervening in its affairs in the future is undoubtedly a great achievement.”
According to the message, the agreement between the Taliban and United States drafted in compliance with Islamic principles and conforming with International standards is a pledge that must be honored by all Mujahideen and Afghans.
“Successful negotiations with the United States prove that solutions can be found for all seemingly complex issues. The success of these negotiations relays a message from the Taliban to all internal actors that we are ready for a rational and just solution,” the message reads.
The Taliban leader stressed on maintaining positive bilateral relations with the world and especially with the regional countries and assured that all male and female compatriots shall be given their due rights under the shade of a just and true Islamic government.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has welcomed the successful conclusion of a seven-day period of reduced violence, which is expected to lead to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations.
“All stakeholders must now look to make genuine and concrete steps toward ending the war,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA.
“Intra-Afghan negotiations are central to the peace efforts. The UN welcomes the commitment expressed by the parties to intra-Afghan negotiations; and urges them to move ahead…. to start the negotiations, including through forming a truly representative negotiation team,” Yamamoto asserted.
He emphasized that the United Nations remains ready to support an inclusive Afghan-led process that includes women, minorities and youth; upholds the human rights of all citizens; and leads to a sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
”United Nations stresses the importance of continuing to reduce violence, especially violence that harms civilians, and urges all parties, in the period ahead, to redouble efforts to reduce violence on the way to a permanent ceasefire and a lasting political settlement,” Yamamoto added.
A member of the Taliban’s office in Qatar, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai says that the peace deal is a historic day for Afghanistan after nearly two decades of war, and that “the US guaranteed that 5,000 prisoners would be released before the intra-Afghan talks.
Afghan Taliban leaders are expected to sign a peace deal in Doha in the upcoming hours with the United States to end the 19-year old war through negotiations.
This comes as the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be attending the event in the Qatari capital.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib says there are some provisions in US-Taliban peace deal which the Afghan government disagrees.
Speaking to reporters at the Presidential Palace, Mr. Mohib said, “The US-Taliban deal includes some provisions which the government opposes. The Taliban insist to mention the name of group as “Islamic Emirate” which should be the ‘Tehrik-e Taliban’.”
In the meantime, Mohib declared that the Afghan government has sent a delegation to Qatar to discuss about the release of Taliban prisoners from government’s custody.
He noted that the 7-day period of reduction in violence was a test period for the Taliban and the main test for the group begins after signing of the deal.
NSA called the goal of the US-Afghanistan joint declaration as a “new framework” for cooperation, adding that the peace process had reached to a promising stage.
Afghan Acting Defense Minister, Asadullah Khalid says the US-Taliban peace agreement which will be signed in the upcoming hours is conditional.
The acting defense minister told reporters that if the conditions are violated by the Taliban, it will also be possible that the deal would be canceled.
According to Khalid, the decrease in the number of foreign troops would not affect the situation in Afghanistan, and that Afghan security forces have the ability to defend their country.
The Defense Minister expressed hope that the peace deal between US and Taliban will lead to a ceasefire.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Saturday that Pakistan wants a “responsible withdrawal” of US troops from Afghanistan.
He made the comments in Doha, where he was invited to witness a peace deal between the United States and Afghanistan.
“It’s an important day,” Qureshi added. “Hopefully it will set the tone for peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
In a meeting with US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, Qureshi also expressed hopes that the peace deal will pave the way for the intra-Afghan dialogue.
“Pakistan will continue its efforts for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Qureshi said while adding that the world will need to help Afghanistan in the rebuilding and restoration of its land.
The State Secretary of Norway Foreign Affairs Ministry, Audun Halvorsen has expressed his country’s readiness to host the Afghan intra-Afghan talks.
The Afghan Executive Office in a press release said that Mr. Halvorsen made the remarks in his meeting the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in Sapidar Palace.
According to the press release, Audun Halvorsen has come to Afghanistan to be alongside of the Afghan people in this important day of signing a peace deal between the Taliban and United States.
In the meantime, Mr. Halvorsen for his part expressed optimism that all sides should use this important opportunity for achieving the peace in the country.
The CE Abdullah also stressed that peace is one of the top priorities of the government and Afghan people and signing a peace deal between Taliban and US is the first step toward achieving a permanent peace.
UK Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Gareth Bayley has expressed hope that the current Reduction in Violence will soon become a full comprehensive and a permanent ceasefire in Afghanistan.
Speaking in Doha ahead of US-Taliban meeting for signing a peace deal, Mr. Bayley declared that the desire of all Afghans is to see a ceasefire and an end to the violence.
“I don’t think that anybody should put a time limit on the reduction of violence or on a ceasefire that we all hope and expect to see,” Bayley told ToloNews.
He stressed that the reduction in violence must turns quickly towards a ceasefire and an end to the killings.
“Too many innocent lives have been lost in this conflict. Thousands of Afghans have lost their lives and of course Afghanistan’s allies and partners have also seen their men and women’s lives lost to this conflict,” he added.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says restoring human dignity can only be done through peace and non-violence.
AIHRC in a series of tweets said that the commission will work with Govt. and Taliban to ensure human dignity prevails, and that justice for all Afghans is always humane and non-violent.
“Today’s signing of ‘The US-Taliban Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan’ is the first step in ending over 40 years of successive war in Afghanistan – and the start of according and restoring human dignity to all Afghans,” AIHRC said.
“Although there were incidents of violence, overall a significant reduction in violence was observed. However, some incidents of violence were worrying, showing restoring human dignity starts with disassociating violence and justice,” the commission added.
This comes as the US and Taliban officials will sign a deal after seven days of reduction in violence in Afghanistan.
The Taliban ordered all its fighters “to refrain from any kind of attack” on Saturday ahead of the signing of an agreement with the U.S. diplomats aimed at bringing peace to Afghanistan, Reuters reported.
“Today all the Taliban fighters are ordered to refrain from any kind of attack … for the happiness of the nation,” Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban told Reuters.
“The biggest thing is that we hope the U.S. remain committed to their promises during the negotiation and peace deal,” he said, adding that foreign forces’ aircraft were flying over Taliban territory which was “irritating and provocative.”
The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah today in Kabul and discussed the peace process and NATO’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan.
The Executive Office in a statement said that CE Abdullah has welcomed Stoltenberg’s visit from Kabul and praised NATO’s presence and assistance to Afghanistan in fight against terrorism.
“I praise NATO’s presence alongside the Afghan people in this day which is a historic day. It is time to thank NATO for its longstanding role in combating terrorism and its sacrifices in Afghanistan,” Abdullah said.
In the meantime, the NATO chief for his part said, “We are pleased to be here with you on this historic and important day in Kabul. We hope that this step will pave the way for permanent peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
“We continue our presence and assistance to the Afghan Armed Forces based on our commitments. This presence and assistance is conditional on improving the situation in Afghanistan, and until then, we are with the Afghan government,” he added.
Kazakhstan is looking for an alternative route for the supply of flour to Afghanistan, bypassing Uzbekistan, according to the Kazakh Telegraph Agency (KazTAG).
“Afghanistan is the main importer of flour from Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan’s share in the Afghan flour market is about 60%). However, Uzbekistan sets high rates for the transit of flour through Uzbekistan to Afghanistan. (…) In order to resolve this issue, KazAgro NMH JSC is developing alternative routes for flour delivery to Afghanistan through Turkmenistan”, Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin said, responding to a request from Mazhilis deputy Amanzhan Zhamalov.
According to the Cabinet head, Uzbekistan, protecting the domestic market from import of goods, uses an excise policy and high tariffs for the transit of imported products through Uzbekistan.
For the tens of thousands of U.S troops who served throughout the ancient streets and craggy mountains of Afghanistan, the memories of combat are still raw. They watched comrades pay the ultimate price.
As per the Fox News report, after more than 18 years of bloodshed, the U.S. government is on the brink of signing a “peace deal” with the Taliban. And for the Americans who fought in the line of fire, the unceremonious ending to the “forever war” elicits a mixed response.
“I don’t know that I ever had a vision or thought out what the end of this war would be. But it is hard to see a peaceful Taliban. A reluctance to accept Western views and ideas puts them fundamentally against things such as free elections, dignity for women, or partnerships with U.S. or NATO forces,” said Fox News contributor Johnny “Joey” Jones, a former U.S. Marine Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician who lost both his legs while serving in Helmand province in 2010. “It’s a side step; it allows a campaign promise to be filled.”
Ending the Afghanistan War, which was sparked following the Sept. 11 attacks and has gone on to be the U.S.’ longest-running conflict, has remained one of President Trump’s 2016 campaign promises.
The NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, is currently visiting Afghanistan, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said.
NATO in a press release on Saturday said that during his visit, the Secretary General will meet with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and senior Afghan officials.
According to the press release, the Secretary General will also meet with the Resolute Support Commander, General Austin Scott Miller; with NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Sir Nicholas Kay and with troops contributing to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.
This comes as the President of Afghanistan, the United States Secretary of Defense and the NATO Secretary General will hold a joint press conference today, at 13:00 (Kabul time) at the Afghan Presidential Palace.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says that an agreement between the US and Taliban will not bring peace to Afghanistan and will not end the war and bloodshed.
This comes as an accord will be signed today between the two sides after a 7 day reduction in violence in Afghanistan.
“It is an important step toward political resolution of the current conflict in Afghanistan. Peace, however, requires much more, from US, our allies and the region and mostly our Afghans,” said Shaharzad Akbar, the chairperson of AIHRC.
Akbar emphasized that peace requires Afghan government and political elite to commit to and succeed in building a strong and inclusive alliance in support of peace.
“Afghan government must also ensure the agenda for talks reflects demands and concerns of women, victims and youths,” she said.
“It requires all of us, Afghan women, youth, human rights community, media, art and culture community to mobilize and advance our vision; an equal, free and tolerant society where justice is a key ingredient for lasting peace,” she added.
AIHRC chairwoman stressed that the road ahead will not be easy and we all have a responsibility toward a positive, sustainable outcome.
“We will certainly have setbacks, mistrusts and frustration. But if anyone thought war was ever worth trying, we should try a thousand times more to end it and achieve a lasting peace,” she said.
President Donald Trump signaled Friday that U.S. officials are set to sign a historic peace deal with Taliban leaders this weekend, one that he hopes will help “bring our troops home” in the coming months.
In a statement, the president announced that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will “witness the signing of an agreement with representatives of the Taliban, while Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will issue a joint declaration with the government of Afghanistan” regarding the agreement. Those actions are expected to take place on Saturday.
The announcement comes after a seven-day ceasefire in Afghanistan and after more than 18 years of U.S. military presence in the country, the base of operations for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
President Trump announced Friday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will witness the signing of an agreement with the Taliban as part of an effort to bring thousands of U.S. troops home from the post-9/11 Afghanistan war.
“Nearly 19 years ago, American service members went to Afghanistan to root out the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks. In that time, we have made great progress in Afghanistan, but at great cost to our brave service members, to the American taxpayers, and to the people of Afghanistan,” Trump said in a statement. “When I ran for office, I promised the American people I would begin to bring our troops home, and seek to end this war. We are making substantial progress on that promise.”
He said that Pompeo would witness the signing of the agreement, while Defense Secretary Mark Esper would issue a joint declaration with the country
“If the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan live up to these commitments, we will have a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home,” he said.
Trump did not say where the deal would be signed, but the Associated Press said it had previously been reported as occurring in Doha, Qatar.