Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban
Russia's foreign minister says the United States, China, Russia and Pakistan are working together to ensure that Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers keep their promises, especially to form a genuinely representative government and prevent the spread of extremist groups.
Biden vows to evacuate thousands of Afghans who helped US
President Joe Biden is vowing that Afghans who helped the U.S. military “are not going to be left behind” as his administration steps up planning to evacuate thousands of Afghan interpreters while their applications for U.S. entry are processed.
Afghan president appoints 2 ministers, angers ruling partner
FILE - In this March 6, 2021, file photo, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during the opening ceremony of the new legislative session of the Parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan. Ghani has made two key Cabinet changes, evoking a strong response Saturday, March 20, 2021 from powerful governing partner Abdullah Abdullah amid increasing pressure from the U.S. to reach a peace agreement with the Taliban. In May 2020, Ghani and political rival Abdullah signed a power-sharing agreement, two months after both declared themselves the winner of the September 2019 presidential election. AdThe Cabinet changes could be a sign that Ghani is pushing back against the U.S. and opposition’s increasing support for an interim administration. The talks in Qatar between the Afghan government and the Taliban have stalled, but Russia voiced hope that the talks in Moscow could help reinvigorate them.
Taliban expect US withdrawal, vow to restore Islamic rule
The Taliban warned Washington against defying a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan promising a "reaction". He also reaffirmed that the Taliban were firm on their demand for an Islamic government. The Taliban, who during their rule imposed a harsh brand of Islam, now control about half of the country. The joint statement emphasized that the four countries do not support the restoration of an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan similar to the Taliban's past rule. Shaheen emphasized that the Taliban would stick to the goal of building an Islamic state.
Russia hosts Afghan peace conference, hoping to boost talks
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, center, arrives with other members of the Taliban delegation for an international peace conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)MOSCOW – Russia hosted a peace conference for Afghanistan on Thursday, bringing together government representatives, the Taliban and international observers in a bid to help jump-start the country's stalled peace process. Moscow’s attempt at mediation comes as talks in Qatar between the Afghan government and the Taliban, still waging an insurgency, have stalled. Washington and Kabul have been pressing for a cease-fire while the Taliban say they will negotiate it as part of peace talks with the Afghan government. Zamir Kabulov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Afghanistan, told reporters that the Afghan participants in the talks showed willingness to negotiate peace.
AP Interview: Karzai says US plan catalyst for Afghan peace
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 11, 2021. Afghans are eager for peace and a recently floated U.S. draft for a deal between Taliban insurgents and the Afghan government is the best chance to accelerate stalled peace talks, ex-president Hamid Karzai said in an interview Thursday. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)KABUL – A recently floated U.S. draft for a deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government is the best chance to accelerate stalled peace talks between the country's warring sides, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in an interview Thursday. Karzai, considered a key player in the talks going forward, told the AP that the proposed U.S. peace plan contains important provisions that could help bring peace to Afghanistan — with some revisions by both sides. AdDespite Karzai's optimistic assessment, the Washington plan could encounter serious opposition from President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban.
AP Interview: Top Afghan negotiator lauds India's support
Afghanistans chief peace envoy Abdullah Abdullah speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. It also signals a gradual shift in India's approach in dealing with the ongoing Afghan peace process that began two years ago, for which it has been invited to take part in for the first time. Still, India has long been reluctant in its direct engagement in Afghanistan peace talks. In May, Khalilzad called for an increased role for India in the Afghan peace process and asked New Delhi to engage directly with the Taliban. His participation was seen by many observers as India shedding its reluctance in engaging directly with the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Envoy pushes Pakistan to press Taliban to lessen violence
Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. His visit to Pakistan was seen as particularly significant because of the ties the Taliban have with Pakistan, especially with the powerful military, which is largely responsible for the country’s Afghan policy. Abdullah said he has asked not just Pakistan, but Washington and every other country that has a voice at the Afghan table, to press for a reduction of violence with the Taliban. Still, for most Afghans Pakistan is seen as having the greatest leverage with the Taliban, whose ruling council is widely thought to be headquartered in southwestern Baluchistan. “It is time (for the Taliban) to show some practical signs of their commitment for peace.
Historic Afghan peace talks fraught with uncertainty
Taliban delegation arrive to attend the opening session of the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. The big hurdle is likely to be what to do with tens of thousands of armed Taliban fighters and the militias loyal to government-allied warlords. Taliban fighters have been battling the upstart affiliate, but the Taliban have already lost fighters to the radical militant Sunni Muslim group. Many Taliban fighters are disillusioned at their leaders entering peace negotiations and believe they could win militarily, with nearly 50% of the country already mostly in their control. Washington’s watchdog, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, has expressed concerns that Taliban fighters returning to their homes could be targeted by corrupt officials or threatened by authorities.
Warring Afghans meet to find peace after decades of war
Saturday's launch of intra-Afghan talks, attended by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, follows the U.S.-brokered recognition of Israel by two Gulf nations — Bahrain on Friday and the United Arab Emirates earlier this month. ”The intra-Afghan negotiations were laid out in a peace deal Washington signed with the Taliban on Feb. 29. At that time the deal was touted as Afghanistan's best chance at peace in 40 years of war. Abdullah was named to head the High Council for National Reconciliation overseeing the peace talks as part of a power-sharing agreement to end the bickering. “Trump likely wants a peace deal before the election, so that he can garner political benefits galore and pitch himself as a Nobel Peace Prize candidate.
Pompeo says Afghan negotiations likely to be 'contentious'
ISLAMABAD – Much anticipated negotiations between Afghanistan's warring parties are likely to be “contentious,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Friday, but are the only way forward if Afghans are to find peace after decades of relentless conflict. “It’s their country to figure out how to move forward and make a better life for all Afghan people,” he said. In the countdown to this November's presidential polls, Washington has ramped up pressure to start intra-Afghan negotiations. But Pompeo warned of spoilers to peace, citing recent targeted killings in Afghanistan and an attempted assassination earlier this week of Afghan vice-president Amrullah Saleh. The six were among 5,000 Taliban prisoner the U.S. peace deal called on the Afghan government to free before the start of negotiations.
Efforts ramping up to get intra-Afghan peace talks started
Officials on both sides of Afghanistan's protracted conflict say efforts are ramping up for the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, a critical next step to a U.S. negotiated peace deal with the Taliban. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)KABUL Officials on both sides of Afghanistans protracted conflict say efforts are ramping up for a start to intra-Afghan negotiations, a critical next step to a U.S.-negotiated peace deal with the Taliban. The peace deal, which calls for the intra-Afghan negotiations, was signed by the U.S. and the Taliban in February and was seen at the time as Afghanistans best hope at peace after four decades of war. President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, who heads the High Council for National Reconciliation, the umbrella organization overseeing the government talks, says a reduction of violence or cease-fire will top their agenda. The group has reportedly completed its agenda and its 20-member negotiation team reports directly to Taliban chief Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada.
Afghan president names council for peace deal with Taliban
The negotiations were envisaged under a U.S.-Taliban peace agreement signed in February as intra-Afghan talks to decide the war-torn countrys future. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree late Saturday establishing the 46-member council, led by his former rival in last years presidential election, Abdullah Abdullah, who is now in the government. The council will have the final say and will ultimately decide on the points that the negotiating team takes up with the Taliban. Among them is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who signed a peace deal with Ghani in 2016 but previously was declared a terrorist by the U.S. The Taliban team answers only to the insurgents' leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhunzada.
Kabul to open traditional council on release of 400 Taliban
The statement would indicate that Washington was not ready to accept a decision to deny the 400 Taliban their freedom. Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said previously that a permanent cease-fire could be one of the first items on the agenda of negotiations between the Taliban and Kabul's leadership. The United States intends to hold the Taliban to these commitments. The intra-Afghan negotiations that Washington had hoped would begin in March have been delayed by the reluctance of Kabul to release the Taliban prisoners. The deal called on Kabul to free 5,000 Taliban and the insurgent group to free 1,000 government and military personnel.
US envoy forges ahead with troubled Taliban peace deal
FILE - In this March 9, 2020 file photo, Washington's peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, attends Ashraf Ghani's inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February to end 19 years of war in Afghanistan. Khalilzad has sought to stress the economic benefits of the peace deal throughout his tour. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied contacts with Al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, saying the insurgents were committed to the peace deal. The peace deal called for the Afghan government to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners, in exchange for the Taliban releasing 1,000 government personnel.