Russia says ready to be guarantor for any Afghan peace deal between US and Taliban

Members of a Taliban delegation take their seats during the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow on on November 9, 2018. Reuters
Updated 28 August 2019

Russia says ready to be guarantor for any Afghan peace deal between US and Taliban

  • Taliban representatives have said they are close to an agreement with US officials
  • Russia has actively supported efforts to reach a peace settlement 

MOSCOW: Russia is ready to be a guarantor of any peace deal for Afghanistan agreed between the United States and the Taliban, the Russian foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
Earlier, the Taliban said it was close to an agreement with US officials on a deal that would see US forces withdraw from Afghanistan in exchange for a promise by the militant group that the country would not become a haven for international terrorism.
“The Russian side is ready to be the third party at the signing or a guarantor of how the deal between the United States and the Taliban movement is implemented,” the TASS news agency quoted ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.
Negotiations over how to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan have been held in Doha, capital of Qatar, since late last year. The ninth round of talks began last week.
Some 14,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, training and advising Afghan forces and conducting counter-insurgency operations. NATO also has a mission in the country totaling 17,000 to provide support to the Afghan forces.
Russia, which as the Soviet Union waged a 10-year war in Afghanistan throughout the 1980s, has actively supported efforts to reach a peace settlement in the country. 


Pakistan to be part of new Saudi foreign manpower program 

Updated 14 November 2019

Pakistan to be part of new Saudi foreign manpower program 

  • New skills-based system to be launched from next month
  • Will include India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Starting next month, Saudi Arabia will introduce a new skilled foreign manpower program that will eventually include Pakistan, a senior official at the Saudi labor ministry said this week. 

Nayef Al-Omair, head of the vocational examination program at the Ministry of Labor, said on Tuesday in Riyadh that the ministry was categorizing the tasks and the structure of some professions for visa-issuing purposes.

Under the new policy, visas would be issued only after skill tests and the previous system would be gradually phased out. 

The new scheme would be optional for one year starting December 2019 after which it would become compulsory, Al-Omair said. The new program would first be applied to manpower recruited from India due to its large size in the Saudi market.

Eventually, the program will cover seven countries, including India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Workers belonging to these states constitute 95 percent of professional manpower in the Kingdom’s local market.

Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.6 million Pakistani expats those have been a vital source of foreign remittances.

Last year the country received $21.8 billion in remittances out of which $5 billion were remitted by Pakistani nationals working in Kingdom.

According to the Pakistani ministry of finance, there was a major decline in manpower export to Saudi Arabia where only 100,910 emigrants proceeded for employment in 2018 as compared to 2017, a drop of 42,453 emigrants.

However, Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, special assistant to the Pakistani prime minister on overseas Pakistanis, said in an interview earlier this month that Saudi Arabia had agreed to increase the share of the Pakistani labor force in the multi-billion dollar New Taif City development.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have formed working groups to develop procedures for this transfer of manpower. Pakistani groups will visit the Kingdom in the coming months to finalize arrangements.