Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that the US is ready to sign an accord on the reduction of troop presence in Afghanistan with the Taliban if the recent measured directed to reduce violence in the country hold.
“We’ve arrived at historic opportunity for peace. It won’t be easy to obtain. We should cease the moment, If and only if a s reduction in violence period] is successful, we will sign the US-Taliban agreement coordinated with the government of National Unity on”, Pompeo said.
The Secretary of State added that if all goes well, the deal will be signed on 29 February or around it, thus allowing the start of US troop withdrawal and further negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghani government. At the same time, Pompeo admitted that intra-Afghan negotiations may still not succeed.
Commenting on how the violence reduction period is going, the Secretary of State characterised it as “imperfect”, but still “working”.
Tajikistan toughen control at border checkpoints with Afghanistan following the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in that country. All persons entering the country through the border check points on the Tajik-Afghan border should pass medical examination, the official media report.
“The first cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Afghanistan, and therefore we have decided to toughen control at the border check points with Afghanistan,” said Tajik Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection of the Population Mirhamuddin Kamolzoda.
“Our specialists are currently on the border and the situation is under control. We closely cooperate with relevant Afghan agencies to prevent spread of the coronavirus to our country,” Kamolzoda said.
Kamolzoda added that to date 882 of 1,148 people have been discharged from coronavirus quarantine in Tajikistan. Those people were under quarantine since February 1.
Afghan local officials have reported one suspected case of coronavirus Tuesday in a western Ghor province neighboring the Herat province.
The governor of Ghor, Gholam Naser Khazeh confirmed the suspected case of Coronavirus to Reporterly, saying a patient who recently visited neighboring Iran and came to the country is in isolation in a hospital in the western Ghor province.
This comes as a number of media outlets also reported about a suspected case of Coronavirus in Helmand province.
Health officials reported three suspected cases of coronavirus Sunday in a western province next to the border with Iran.
The reported cases prompted the Afghan government to temporarily suspend air and land travel with Iran and halt the import of chicken and eggs from the neighboring country.
A secret inquiry into alleged war crimes by Australian Special Forces is in its final stages, and is focusing on accusations of unlawful killings, the Inspector-General of the Australian Defiance Force (IGADF) said.
The inquiry, by (IGADF), has been underway since May 2016 and was sparked by allegations and rumours of Special Forces troops killing unarmed Afghan men and children.
Investigators are looking into 55 separate incidents of alleged breaches of the rules of war in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.
A total of 336 people have given evidence to the probe so far.
Members of the Defence community have been frustrated at how long the inquiry has been taking to complete.
There are a variety of issues on the table when US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi meet today (Tuesday), OneIndia reported.
Talks on Afghanistan and Asia-Pacific cooperation will be held today. The talks on Afghanistan are particularly significant in the backdrop of a peace deal that would be signed by the US on February 29 with the Taliban at Doha.
India has remained largely silent on the peace talks, but has maintained that terror sanctuaries along the Durand Line must be demolished.
Welcoming the US-Taliban peace deal likely to be signed later this month, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has said China believed that the treaty would pave way for a smooth and orderly withdrawal of foreign troops stationed in Afghanistan and prevent terrorist organizations from taking advantage of the situation in that country.
“We welcome the news that the United States and the Afghan Taliban will reach and sign a deal,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said here at a press conference.
The United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan have announced that they will sign a peace agreement on February 29. It will be witnessed by international observers.
“We hope that the relevant agreements will be smoothly implemented to prepare a ground for a political settlement of the Afghanistan issue,” he added.
Noticing the relevant reports, he said that China had maintained close communication and coordination with the relevant parties on the latest situation on Afghanistan.
He said that China firmly supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned broad and inclusive process for peace and reconciliation which supported the parties concerned in Afghanistan to strengthen dialogue.
“We believe that foreign troops stationed in Afghanistan should be withdrawn in an orderly and responsible manner to ensure that the situation will have a smooth transition,” he added.
Zhao Lijian said that the Chinese side also believed that the deal would prevent any security vacuum and also ensure to prevent terrorist organizations from taking advantage of the situation in Afghanistan.
Despite a general drop in attacks across Afghanistan at least seven people have been killed and five others wounded in a Taliban attack in northern Balkh province on the third day of a week-long “reduction in violence,” local officials said.
Taliban militants attacked a checkpoint of pro-government forces in Chahar Kint district early Monday, killing six including a civilian, according to district governor Salima Mazari.
The seven-day period of reduced violence between the militant Taliban and the US started on Saturday, marking a potential breakthrough in long-running talks between the insurgents and Washington about a political solution to the conflict.
The reduction in violence is seen as a test of the Taliban’s control of their ranks and their commitment to a peace process.
Since the start of the period, Afghan officials reported smaller incidents of violence in provinces including Kandahar, Balkh, Uruzgan and Paktiya.
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan dropped by 5% in 2019, mainly due to a sharp decrease in the number of civilians killed or wounded by the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) militant group, according to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
In its annual report for 2019 UNAMA said it documented 10,392 civilian casualties (3,403 killed and 6,989 injured) as a result of the armed conflict in the Central Asian country. The figure represents not only a 5% decrease compared with 2018 but also the lowest overall level of civilian casualties since 2013.
That said, the figure also marks the sixth year in a row that the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan exceeded 10,000, with UNAMA stating that it has registered more than 100,000 civilian casualties – more than 35,000 killed and 65,000 injured – since it began systematic documentation of the figures in 2009.
The United States wants Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to defer his second-term inauguration over concerns it could inflame an election feud with his political rival and jeopardize U.S.-led peacemaking efforts, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Ghani claimed victory last week in a disputed Sept. 28 election and plans to take the oath of office on Thursday, an Afghan official said. His opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, Ghani’s former deputy, also proclaimed himself the winner and is planning a parallel inauguration, according to Afghan media reports.
Ghani-Abdullah feud threatens to further complicate the naming of a delegation to negotiate with the insurgents, a process already mired in delays and disputes.
As per Reuters, a source familiar with the matter said that because of those concerns, U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been in Kabul since last week, wants Ghani to delay his planned inauguration to a second five-year term.
The U.S. State Department and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Afghan Embassy in Washington declined comment.
Sanitary and epidemiological agency of the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan offered to close the Uzbek-Afghan border after coronavirus outbreak in Afghanistan.
The proposal was discussed at the session of the central office on fighting coronavirus on February 24.
The participants considered a temporary suspension of the Uzbek-Afghan border and other issues regarding the two countries and their action plans.
The Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan on its official website has not yet announced about the meeting and a temporary closure of the Uzbek-Afghan border.
On February 24, the Ministry of Health of Afghanistan said three people were diagnosed coronavirus.
Emergency situation was announced in the neighboring districts of Afghanistan after one of the patients was infected in the Iranian city of Qom.