Taliban will send delegates to Russian talks on Afghanistan

In this photo taken on October 29, 2018, Afghan security personnel search passengers in a checkpoint on Highway One in Ghazni. On a good day, it takes Mohammad less than three hours to drive from Ghazni to Kabul. (AFP)
Updated 06 November 2018
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Taliban will send delegates to Russian talks on Afghanistan

  • Moscow announced Saturday it would host the meeting on November 9 to discuss ways to kickstart peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban
  • The Taliban said it would dispatch “high-ranking” representatives from its political office in Qatar

KABUL: The Taliban will send representatives to new talks on Afghanistan taking place in Russia on Friday.

Moscow said last Saturday it would host the meeting to discuss ways to restart peace negotiations. The Taliban said on Tuesday it would dispatch “high-ranking” representatives from its political office in Qatar.

“This conference is not about negotiating with any particular side, rather it is a conference about holding comprehensive discussions on finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan quandary and ending the American occupation,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.

The Afghan government will not attend but is sending members of the High Peace Council, the government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants. Moscow has also invited delegates from the US, India, Iran, China, Pakistan and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

Pakistan, which has been accused of providing support to the Taliban, would “definitely” attend, Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhammad Faisal said.

Najib Mahmoud, a political science professor at Kabul University, said other countries were gaining the upper hand in the peace process.

“The Afghan government is not attending because it does not want to harm its relations with America, but it sends a delegation from the High Peace Council to find out what is discussed,” he told Arab News

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Afghanistan’s chances for peace were “greater now” than in many years, but “the situation remains serious.” He added: “The Taliban must understand that continuing the fight is pointless and counterproductive. 

“We need an Afghan-owned and led peace process. And it must be inclusive.”


Finns held in Muslim Malaysia over ‘Christian pamphlets’

Updated 21 November 2018
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Finns held in Muslim Malaysia over ‘Christian pamphlets’

  • hey are accused of breaking laws that forbid people from disturbing religious harmony, and could be jailed for up to five years
  • Issues related to race, religion and language are considered sensitive in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Four Finns have been arrested on a holiday island in Muslim-majority Malaysia for allegedly distributing pamphlets about Christianity, police said Wednesday, and may face up to five years in jail.
Religion is a deeply sensitive issue in Malaysia, where more than 60 percent of the populaton is Muslim, and critics say rising conservatism has chipped away at a traditionally tolerant brand of Islam in recent years.
Authorities detained the two men and two women on Tuesday after receiving complaints from members of the public that they were handing out Christian materials on the popular resort island of Langkawi, said local police chief Mohamad Iqbal Ibrahim.
“Police have arrested four Finnish nationals in Langkawi for allegedly distributing religious material in a public place,” he told AFP.
“They were distributing pamphlets related to Christianity.”
The Finns, aged between 27 and 60, were arrested at a hotel and police seized pens, notebooks and a bag.
They are accused of breaking laws that forbid people from disturbing religious harmony. If found guilty, they could be jailed for between two and five years.
The suspects have been remanded in custody while police investigate.
Langkawi, a jungle-clad island in northwest Malaysia, attracts millions of tourists to its palm-fringed beaches every year.
Malaysia, home to about 32 million people, has sizeable ethnic Chinese and Indian communities who have long complained about rising Islamization.
In 2010, three churches were attacked with firebombs, causing major damage to one, as Muslims sought to prevent Christians from using the word “Allah.”
Issues related to race, religion and language are considered sensitive in Malaysia, which witnessed deadly riots between members of the majority Malay community and ethnic Chinese in 1969.