Tag: Afghanistan

Pompeo arrives in Kabul to resume peace deal talks

Pompeo arrives in Kabul to resume peace deal talks

To resume the peace talks between US and Taliban, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo arrived in Kabul on Monday. Pompeo’s surprise visit to Kabul highlights the urgency of the matter. He was received by Zalmay Khalilzad — the lead US negotiator in talks with the Taliban — at the Kabul airport.

The US did not want to miss even the slightest of opportunity to close the deal, especially when the intra-Afghan peace process has been stalled over the ongoing political turmoil in Afghanistan. The country’s leaders, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, are fighting over the claim to be Afghanistan’s elected president.

Pompeo held separate and joint meetings with both the rivals.
“We have tried… for the last several weeks to try to find the formula and encourage them to come to an agreement,” a senior state department official said, according to a pool report.
Pompeo has come “to help push, to encourage and to point out what our expectations are and what that assessment is if they don’t do the right thing”.

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A State Department official, who accompanied Pompeo, spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity. He said, “We are in a crisis. The fear is that unless this crisis gets resolved and resolved soon, that could affect the peace process, which was an opportunity for this country that (has) stood in this 40-years-long war. And our agreement with the Talibs could be put at risk.”

The US and NATO forces have already initiated the troop withdrawal process. Though it has reached a slow turn amid the ongoing global outbreak of coronavirus. The US authorities are pressing hard to reach a deal before the negotiation window between Taliban and Afghanistan gets shut again.

The complete withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan is dependent on Taliban’s commitment to prevent other terror group from entering and operating in Afghanistan. Things fell out after the phase one signing of the deal, i.e. in Qatar on Feb. 29, as Ghani refused to fulfill his part of a promise made in the US-Taliban deal to free up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners, as a goodwill gesture in exchange of 1000 Afghan prisoners.

Afghan decree: The government will release 1,500 Taliban prisoners
Asia Pacific Focus

Afghan decree: The government will release 1,500 Taliban prisoners

A copy of an Afghan decree seen by Reuters showed that President Ashraf Ghani will release 1,500 Taliban prisoners in the next few days to pave the way for direct talks with the militant movement aimed at ending the 18-year old war in Afghanistan.
The decree, to be issued on two pages and bearing the signature of Ghani, and which the President’s office will announce later, states that all released Taliban prisoners must submit a “written declaration not to return to the battlefield”.

The decree details how to release Taliban prisoners in a systematic manner. The document indicates that the release of prisoners will begin within four days. “The release of 1,500 Taliban prisoners will be completed within 15 days, with 100 prisoners released daily from Afghan prisons,” the decree said.

It added that the talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government to end the war would be in parallel with the release of the prisoners. The government stated that it would release 500 more Taliban prisoners every two weeks, until the total released amounts to 5,000, if the talks progresses.

The decree indicated that the Taliban must fulfill their commitment to reduce violence during this period and beyond. The release of the prisoners is part of a confidence-building initiative aimed at paving the way for direct talks between the government and the militants to start after the two sides held separate talks with the United States.

The issue has become one of the main sticking points for any progress towards peace, and has been complicated by the varying drafting of documents between the United States and the Taliban on the one hand, and the United States and the Afghan government on the other.

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Taliban rule out holding Afghan peace talks on time.
Asia Pacific Focus

Taliban rule out holding Afghan peace talks on time.

The Taliban said that peace talks with the Afghan government are unlikely to be held next week because both President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah will hold their own swearing-in ceremony on Monday after the last presidential election and urged political opponents to focus on ending the war instead of that.

The United States is trying to push the Afghan government toward talks with the Taliban, which are set to start on Tuesday under the peace agreement signed between the United States and the militant movement in Doha last month.
But the threat of two parallel governments undermines the nascent peace process to end a war that has killed tens of thousands of people since the United States launched attacks on the country weeks after the September 11th, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

In February, the Afghan election commission announced Ghani’s victory in the September presidential elections, but his arch rival Abdullah said he was the winner and insisted on forming a government.

Both Abdullah and Ghani announced the holding of a legal swearing-in ceremony on Monday, and each of them sent invitations to this effect.
“We do not think they will do this to prepare for talks between Afghans on March 10th,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.

“Instead of taking the oath, we want to focus on conversations between Afghans,” he added. We appeal to them to move away from internal differences, to stop the oath and to work for peace. ”

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Criminal Court authorizing investigations of war crimes in Afghanistan.
Asia Pacific Focus

Criminal Court authorizing investigations of war crimes in Afghanistan.

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Thursday, reopened an investigation into violations in Afghanistan, including US forces that may have committed atrocities, in violation of a previous ruling.

“The court prosecutor authorized the start of an investigation into crimes believed to have been committed on the soil of Afghanistan since May 1st, 2003,” said Judge Pyotr Hoffmansky.
In April, a lower court rejected court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request to open a formal investigation into allegations of brutality by all sides during the conflict, including the United States, Afghan government forces, and the Taliban.

The judges said last April that they were rejecting her request because the chance of a successful case was slim because of the lack of cooperation of Kabul and other “key countries” including the United States, but the Appeals Chamber ruled, on Thursday, that an investigation into the violations of Afghanistan could be opened.

A preliminary investigation of the court has been ongoing in the Afghan conflict since 2006.

In response to the case, the administration of President Donald Trump imposed travel restrictions and other sanctions on court officials a year ago.
Bensoda confirmed earlier that there are grounds to open an investigation into violations committed between 2003 and 2014, including the mass killing of civilians by the Taliban and accusations of torture of prisoners by the Afghan authorities, as well as by the American forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (C.E. IE) but to a lesser degree.

The United States and the Taliban signed an agreement, on Saturday, to withdraw thousands of American forces still in Afghanistan, but Washington launched an air strike on Taliban fighters, on Wednesday.

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Taliban participation in Afghan talks suspended.
Asia Pacific Focus

Taliban participation in Afghan talks suspended.

Afghan Taliban movement’s spokesman said that the movement will not participate in negotiations among Afghans until about five thousand of its prisoners are released, which could be a major obstacle to ending the war.

Under an agreement between the United States and the Taliban signed on Saturday, the two parties are obligated to work for the politicians and imprisoned fighters’ release as a confidence-building measure.

The agreement included calling for the release of about five thousand prisoners of the Taliban and up to a thousand prisoners of the Afghan government by March 10th.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who was not involved in the peace talks, rejected this demand. “We are completely ready for talks between Afghans, but we are waiting for the release of our 5,000 prisoners,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.

“If our 5,000 prisoners – one or two hundred less or not, do not matter – there will be no negotiations between Afghans,” he added.

On Sunday, Ghani said that US President Donald Trump had not requested the release of prisoners and that the issue of mutual release of prisoners should be discussed within the framework of a comprehensive peace agreement.

“The Afghan government has not made any commitment to release 5,000 prisoners to the Taliban before the start of any possible negotiations,” said Siddiqui Siddiqui, a spokesman for the Afghan president, in response to the Taliban’s comments on Monday. He added that the release of prisoners “cannot be a necessity of the talks” and that the release should instead be part of the negotiations.

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Taliban confirms signing agreement with US on February 29

Taliban confirms signing agreement with US on February 29

The radical Taliban movement has announced its intention to sign an agreement with the United States on February 29. This was reported on Friday by the representative of the Taliban, Zabihulla Mujahid.

“Now both parties must create an appropriate security environment in anticipation of the signing of the agreement,” Mujahid said.

Earlier, the upcoming signing of the agreement with the Taliban was announced by the head of the press service of the US Department of State, Morgan Ortegus. It was noted that soon after this, intra-Afghan negotiations will be held, on which, on the basis of this agreement, an attempt will be made to achieve a permanent ceasefire in Afghanistan.

The National Security Council of Afghanistan, announced that the government and the Taliban have reached an agreement on a regime to reduce violence, which should take effect at midnight from Friday to Saturday. The regime will last seven days.

On Thursday, the Taliban radical movement announced that it will soon reach final agreements with US authorities to reduce violence in Afghanistan. In the future, this should allow all foreign troops to withdraw from the country. US President Donald Trump said on February 13 that Washington and the Taliban could soon announce deals. He added that the United States “would like to bring its military back home” from Afghanistan.

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