Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia display unity, closeness on Kingdom’s National Day 

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Mohammad Khan, Afghanistan's first deputy chief executive, slices the celebration cake with Ambassador Al-Khalidi.  (AN photo)
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Saudi Ambassador Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Khalidi speaks with the wife of the US ambassador to Kabul. (AN photo)
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Saudi Ambassador Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Khalidi escorts arriving former Afghan President Sibghatullah Mojadidi across the hotel hallway. (AN photo)
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Saudi Ambassador Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Khalidi delivers his speech. (AN photo)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia display unity, closeness on Kingdom’s National Day 

  • Unlike past celebrations, Sunday’s event was more elaborate one, from previous  gatherings

KABUL: Standing on the path way that leads to the spacious yard of Serena hotel in Kabul, Saudi’s new ambassador to Afghanistan Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Khalidi, welcomed local and foreign guests as they thronged to attend the kingdom’s 88th National Day.

But with his watchful eyes, he and his two embassy staff left the pathway and rushed past the doorway to embrace some Afghan former and current politicians as well as leaders whenever they arrived on Sunday evening.

As guests arrived, Arabic national music videos showed Arab men in traditional attire, brandishing swords on a big TV screen. 

Later, a video aired delivery of kingdom’s aid to various Islamic countries, including Yemen.

Apart from a number of foreign diplomats, including the US ambassador, other guests were a former Afghan President Sibghatullah Mojadidi and members of factions that Saudi provided military and financial assistance during the war against the ex-Soviet Union.

There were few women and a former Taliban official who currently serves as an official in President Ashraf Ghani’s government.

Unlike past celebrations, Sunday’s event was more elaborate one, from previous  gatherings.

The national anthem of the two nations were played.

A giant billboard displaying the images of King Abdulaziz, founder of the kingdom, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, on one side and those of Ghani and his chief executive, Dr. Abdullah at its other end.

Both Ambassador Al-Khalidi and the top Afghan official attending the event, Mohammad Khan who serves as first deputy chief executive, spoke about the importance of historical bond between Kabul and Riyadh.

“On this occasion, I would like to mention the distinguished historical relations between the two countries. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, whose roots extend to the beginning of the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Al-Khalidi told the guests.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia paying great attention towards its bilateral relations with the brother country Afghanistan at various levels in order to achieve peace & security and well-being of its people and actively participates in the international conferences relevant to the Afghan Affairs,” 

Al-Khalidi has been in this posting since May and enjoys more respect in the government compared to his predecessors, according to two foreign ministry officials.

Khan thanked Saudi for its new aid projects in Afghanistan that includes building of a ring-road in Kabul, two main hospitals, four clinics, a center for the country’s clergies and cash for Afghan returning refugees.

“We in the regional and world affairs have equal and close view with Saudi,” he said suggesting Afghanistan wanted that the Islamic countries, particularly, the Gulf nations settle their problem through understanding and talks.


US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

Updated 19 April 2019
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US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

  • A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend
  • The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group

KABUL: The US envoy for peace in Afghanistan expressed disappointment on Friday after the collapse of a planned meeting between the Taliban and a group of Afghan politicians in Qatar that exposed some of the deep divisions hampering efforts to end the war.
A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend. The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group, which included some government officials attending in a personal capacity.
“I’m disappointed Qatar’s intra-Afghan initiative has been delayed,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, said on Twitter. “I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans.”
The collapse of the meeting before it had even started, described as a “fiasco” by one senior Western official, laid bare the tensions that have hampered moves toward opening formal peace negotiations.
Khalilzad, a veteran Afghan-born diplomat, has held a series of meetings with Taliban representatives but the insurgents have so far refused to talk to the Western-backed government in Kabul, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.
The Doha meeting was intended to prepare the ground for possible future talks by building familiarity among Taliban officials and representatives of the Afghan state created after the US-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in 2001. A similar encounter was held in Moscow in February.
President Ashraf Ghani’s office blamed Qatari authorities for the cancelation, saying they had authorized a list of participants that differed from the one proposed by Kabul, “which meant disrespect for the national will of the Afghans.”
“This act is not acceptable for the people of Afghanistan,” it said in a statement on Friday.
Sultan Barakat, director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Qatar, which had been facilitating the meeting, said there was no disagreement about the agenda.
“Rather, there is insufficient agreement around participation and representation to enable the conference to be a success,” he tweeted.
Preparations had already been undermined by disagreements on the government side about who should attend, as well as by suspicions among rival politicians ahead of presidential elections scheduled for September.
The Taliban derided the agreed list of 250 participants as a “wedding party.” Some senior opposition figures who had been included refused to attend.
The Taliban also objected to Ghani’s comments to a meeting of delegates that they would be representing the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, a statement that went against the insurgents’ refusal to deal with the Kabul administration.