Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
US President Donald Trump said Sunday he would sign a peace deal with the Taliban if one were eventually reached in Afghanistan.
“Yes,” he told reporters at the White House as he prepared to depart on a trip to India. “I would put my name on it.”
His comments came after a partial truce took effect in Afghanistan on Saturday, with the Taliban, US, and Afghan forces agreeing to a week-long “reduction in violence.”
The truce was intended to set conditions for Washington and the insurgents to sign a deal in Doha on February 29 that could ultimately lead to a withdrawal of US forces after more than 18 years.
The Afghan government says it is ready to announce the negotiating team for the intra-Afghan negotiations within the next two weeks.
The intra-Afghan talks will begin after the signing of the US-Taliban deal, which, according to the US Department of State, will happen on February 29.
President Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the authority of the negotiating team will be limited.
“We expect Mr. (Hamid) Karzai, Mr. (Abdullah) Abdullah, Mr. (Mohammad) Mohaqiq, and all politicians to join the convoy of peace and end the war in Afghanistan,” Sediqqi told TOLOnews on Sunday.
Afghanistan Embassy in Iran on Sunday temporarily suspended consular services amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In a notice, the embassy said that considering high number of visitors at consular section of the embassy and to prevent the spread of the killer disease which quickly spreads in gatherings, it cannot deliver consular services until Wednesday.
The embassy, however, said that consular services will be available in emergency cases.
The Ministry of Public Health has reported three suspected cases of coronavirus in the western province of Herat.
The three infected persons are Herat residents who recently returned from Qom city in Iran, the Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar told reporters.
Blood samples of the three have been sent to Kabul to be tested, and the results will be available soon, he said.
A convoy of Afghan forces faced a Taliban ambush in southern Kandahar province on Sunday.
Deputy spokesman of Kandahar Police Abdul Seyar Khaksar told Reporterly, “The Taliban attacked security forces convoy on Uruzgan-Kandahar highway at around 11:00am on Sunday.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack which happened amid Reduction in Violence negotiated between the United States and the Taliban.
Kaksar added that the attack happened in Chinar area of Shah Wali Kot District.
The attack involved also a bomb blast that hit a vehicle, according to the source.
President Ashraf Ghani, in a new verdict has instructed formation of a high governmental commission to hold the presidential inauguration ceremony.
Based on the instruction, a commission has been set up to under the chairmanship of the Independent Directorate of Local Organs and the Head of the Parwan Provincial Council for holding a ceremony in which the new President of Afghanistan is sworn into office.
According to the verdict, the Ministries of Defense, Interior, Transport, NDS, Kabul municipality and other institutions are obliged to cooperate with the commission.
The commission should also provide all conditions for the presidential inauguration within the next five days.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has announced that the Kabul Police started the installation of Global Positioning System (GPS) in Police vehicles in a bid to control, counter corruption and misuse of Afghan National Police (ANP) vehicles.
Senior deputy of MoI, Abdul Saboor Qaneh visited the center on Saturday where the officials are tracking the ANP vehicles with the help of GPS system in Kabul.
“The Kabul Police Vehicle Tracking Center would play a key role in maintaining fuel efficiency and fighting corruption, calling it as one of the main priorities of the Ministry of Interior,” Qaneh said.
The Kabul Police Headquarters said it has installed the system in almost 35 per cent of police vehicles and the process would be completed in the near future.
The first-ever Afghan transit trade train departed from Karachi on Saturday, transiting a cargo of 35 containers to Chaman and Kandahar.
The train service, called Goods in Transit to Afghanistan (GITA), was inaugurated by Pakistan Railways.
According to sources, 5-7 GITA service trains are expected to run on a monthly basis.
Pakistan Railways initiated GITA to ease traffic flow and meet the demand of Afghan traders.
The service was originally planned to be launched in 2017; however, it had to be delayed due to security issues.
As China fights the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus, Afghan Ambassador to China Javid Ahmad Qaem voiced Afghanistan’s support to the country.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Afghanistan.
In a wide-ranging interview, Global Times (GT) reporter asked the ambassador about how the two countries’ historical friendship facilitates modern interactions, issues relating to the virus epidemic, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Afghan peace process.
Mr. Qaem declared that the Chinese government has done a tremendous job in trying to curb and contain the virus.
“The way they blocked that area is remarkable and would have been very difficult in any other country to reaching out to those people there,” he said.
“We have some students studying in Wuhan and some of them are living with [Chinese] families. I’m very grateful to the government of China for providing very continuous support to Afghan students at universities and in hostels. Chinese instructors there regularly check on their health. And if they need anything, we’re also in touch with those Chinese professors and instructors,” he added.
A week-long “reduction in violence” between the Taliban, the United States and Afghan security forces took effect on Friday, raising hopes for a resolution to the 18-year-long war.
“Upon a successful implementation of this understanding, signing of the US-Taliban agreement is expected to move forward. We are preparing for the signing to take place on 29 February,” Pompeo said.
The two sides have been wrangling over the US demand for putting a ceasefire in place before the final peace agreement is signed. The deal is expected to outline the withdrawal of US troops and a guarantee that Afghan soil will not be used as a launchpad to conduct attacks on foreign countries.
About 30 members of the Colorado National Guard are deploying to Afghanistan, CBS News reported.
The 220th Military Police Company will support the U.S. Central Command Operations. Some of the soldiers have a security clearance – meaning their identities need to be concealed.
This is the second deployment for some members of the company.
The soldiers will work with American and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. They will be deployed for a year.