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.”


UK’s Hunt to make first visit to Iran

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt leaves 10 Downing Street in London on November 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 56 min 50 sec ago
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UK’s Hunt to make first visit to Iran

  • Jeremy Hunt: “The Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearised Iran. It needs 100 percent compliance though to survive”

LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will visit Iran for the first time on Monday for talks with the Iranian government on issues including the future of the 2015 nuclear deal, his office said in a statement.
In May, US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal, negotiated with five other world powers during Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration, and earlier this month the United States restored sanctions targeting Iran’s oil, banking and transportation sectors.
Hunt’s office said he would meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and would stress that the UK is committed to the nuclear deal as long as Iran sticks to its terms. He will also discuss European efforts to maintain nuclear-related sanctions relief.
“The Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearised Iran. It needs 100 percent compliance though to survive,” Hunt said in a statement ahead of the visit.
“We will stick to our side of the bargain as long as Iran does. But we also need to see an end to destabilising activity by Iran in the rest of the region if we are going to tackle the root causes of the challenges the region faces.”
Hunt will also discuss Iran’s role in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, his office said, and press Iran on its human rights record, calling for the immediate release of detained British-Iranian dual nationals where there are humanitarian grounds to do so.
“I arrive in Iran with a clear message for the country’s leaders: putting innocent people in prison cannot and must not be used as a tool of diplomatic leverage,” he said.