Indonesia reaffirms commitment to Afghanistan peace process

Indonesia reaffirms commitment to Afghanistan peace process
The government reaffirmed Indonesia’s role in facilitating peace talks between the Taliban and the deposed Kabul government led by President Ashraf Ghani. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 25 August 2021

Indonesia reaffirms commitment to Afghanistan peace process

Indonesia reaffirms commitment to Afghanistan peace process
  • “During the meeting, I reaffirmed our commitment to support peacebuilding in Afghanistan,” Abdul Kadir Jailani told Arab News.

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s government has said it remains committed to supporting the peace process in Afghanistan despite uncertainty surrounding the new Taliban regime, which took control of the war-torn country this month.
It also reaffirmed Indonesia’s role in facilitating peace talks between the Taliban and the deposed Kabul government led by President Ashraf Ghani, who fled Afghanistan hours after the Taliban’s bloodless capture of the Afghan capital on Aug. 15.
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s director-general for Asia, Pacific and African affairs, Abdul Kadir Jailani, said he had conveyed Jakarta’s commitment to Afghanistan’s new rulers during a virtual meeting with Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy chief of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar, on Aug. 14.
“During the meeting, I reaffirmed our commitment to support peacebuilding in Afghanistan,” Jailani told Arab News.
“I also conveyed our expectation for a diplomatic guarantee that they would not do anything to our embassy,” he added.
According to Jailani, Hanafi assured him that the Indonesian mission would remain secure after the Taliban came to power.
However, on Friday, Indonesia temporarily relocated its diplomatic mission from Kabul to Islamabad, changing its initial plan to maintain its mission with only an essential team in the Afghan capital.
“For some reason, there were new dynamics on the field that we could not manage,” Jailani said, without elaborating further.
The mission in Islamabad includes a charge d’affaires and diplomatic and security staff. They will be moved back to Kabul as soon as the situation allows, Jailani added.
Jakarta evacuated 26 Indonesians, two Afghans — a local staff member of the Indonesian Embassy and the husband of an Indonesian national — and five Filipinos following a request from the Philippine government.
The Indonesian Air Force plane that transported the evacuees arrived at the air force base in Jakarta on Saturday morning, completing a mission that began three days earlier. To begin with, the plane had to remain on standby to depart for Kabul on short notice, with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in constant communication with her Dutch, Turkish, Norwegian and American counterparts, as well as NATO, to secure the plane’s landing permit in Kabul.

HIGHLIGHT

Foreign Ministry official says Jakarta hopes Taliban will make ‘positive promises’ a reality, including the formation of an inclusive government.

Indonesia eventually secured the permit to land on Friday morning and was allowed a short landing time to get the evacuees on board, Jailani said.
Despite the Taliban rulers’ verbal pledge that they would give general amnesty to those who worked for the deposed regime and the international forces, Jailani said it remains to be seen if they would keep their word and make those “positive promises” a reality.
“They would need to reconcile, forge an inclusive peace process. Therefore, giving a general amnesty would be vital,” he said.
As Indonesia and the rest of the international community await an official announcement by the new Taliban regime, Jailani said Indonesia expects there to be an inclusive government.
“In this regard, they need to have a political settlement based on the Afghan-led, Afghan-owned principle, to establish an inclusive government, and for this, Indonesia underscores the importance of respect to human rights, especially the rights of women and the minority groups,” he said.
Indonesia’s peace-building efforts include hosting an under-the-radar meeting between a Taliban delegation, led by the group’s leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and then-Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Muslim organizations in Jakarta in July 2019.
This followed a trilateral conference between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Muslim scholars (ulema) in Bogor, near Jakarta, in May 2018.
Earlier in 2018, on Jan. 29, Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with Ghani in Kabul. The brief visit followed Widodo and Kalla’s meeting with an Afghan High Peace Council delegation in November 2017. That delegation was on a visit to Indonesia to seek support for the Afghan peace process under the ulema’s guidance.


Explosion of WWII bomb in Munich injures 3, disrupts trains

Explosion of WWII bomb in Munich injures 3, disrupts trains
Updated 5 min 58 sec ago

Explosion of WWII bomb in Munich injures 3, disrupts trains

Explosion of WWII bomb in Munich injures 3, disrupts trains
  • Rail travel to and from the main train station has been suspended, according to rail operator Deutsche Bahn

BERLIN: An old aircraft bomb exploded at a bridge near Munich’s busy main train station on Wednesday, injuring three people, police said on Twitter.
The explosion happened during construction work, police said.
Due to the explosion, rail travel to and from the main train station has been suspended, according to rail operator Deutsche Bahn.


Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks

Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks
Updated 01 December 2021

Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks

Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks
  • BioNTech/Pfizer, will have jabs available for children in the bloc in two weeks’ time

BRUSSELS: The EU’s main Covid vaccine provider, BioNTech/Pfizer, will have jabs available for children in the bloc in two weeks’ time, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.
She said she had spoken with the German-US joint venture about the issue the day before, and they said “they are able to accelerate — in other words children’s vaccines will be available as of December 13.”


Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success

Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success
Updated 01 December 2021

Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success

Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success
  • Under the new rules, most arriving passengers must show negative test results at Portugal’s airports, seaports and land borders
  • Authorities in Portugal have confirmed an outbreak of the new coronavirus variant, omicron, among members of a professional soccer club and a medical worker

LISBON: Portugal tightened passenger entry requirements and mandated masks indoors to curb an upward trend in coronavirus infections as the country with one of the strongest vaccination records in Europe entered a “state of calamity” Wednesday.
The crisis declaration, Portugal’s second this year, is one step below a state of emergency and gives the government the legal authority to impose stricter measures without parliamentary approval.
Masks now are required in enclosed public spaces, and individuals must show proof of vaccination, having recovered from COVID-19 or a negative virus tests to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms and hotels. Nightclubs, hospitals, nursing homes and sports venues also must require negative virus tests from visitors and patrons, including vaccinated ones.
“With the test, we feel more comfortable. We don’t leave the club thinking, ‘Do I have COVID or not?’” Sara Lopes, a 21-year-old shop worker, said as she lined up at a central Lisbon nightclub as the new requirements took effect at midnight.
“It’s a bit of a hassle to have to make appointment after appointment at the pharmacy, but it’s fine,” Lopes said.
Under the new rules, most arriving passengers must show negative test results at Portugal’s airports, seaports and land borders.
Experts believe that Portugal’s vaccination rate, which at 87 percent of over 10 million residents is one of the highest globally, has shielded the country from the infection spikes recently experienced by some other European countries.
Still, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has been rising since September. Portuguese authorities on Tuesday recorded 2,907 new cases and 15 deaths.
Authorities in Portugal have confirmed an outbreak of the new coronavirus variant, omicron, among members of a professional soccer club and a medical worker who had contact with them.


Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks

Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks
Updated 01 December 2021

Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks

Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks
  • A new agreement on pandemic preparedness and response will come into force in 2024

GENEVA: World Health Organization member states agreed Wednesday to start work on building a new international accord setting out how to handle the next global pandemic.
Countries adopted a resolution at a special meeting in Geneva, launching the process that should result in a new agreement on pandemic preparedness and response coming into force in 2024.


China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks

China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks
Updated 01 December 2021

China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks

China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks
  • A number of Chinese citizens had been attacked and kidnapped over the past month in the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri

BEIJING: China on Wednesday urged its citizens to leave three provinces in eastern Congo as violence intensifies in the mineral-rich region.
A posting from the Chinese Embassy in Kinshasa on the WeChat online messaging said a number of Chinese citizens had been attacked and kidnapped over the past month in the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri, where several anti-government rebel groups have a presence.
It said Chinese residing in the three provinces should provide their personal details by Dec. 10 and make plans to leave for safer parts of Congo. Those in the districts of Bunia, Djugu, Beni, Rutshuru, Fizi, Uvira and Mwenga should leave immediately, it said, adding that any who do not do so “will have to bear the consequences themselves.”
“We ask that all Chinese citizens and Chinese-invested businesses in Congo please pay close attention to local conditions, increase their safety awareness and emergency preparedness, and avoid unnecessary outside travel,” the embassy said.
No details of the incidents were given, although the embassy last month reported five Chinese citizens were abducted from a mining operation in South Kivu, which borders Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
It warned a the time that the security situation in the area was “extremely complex and grim” and that there was little possibility of sending help in the event of an attack or kidnapping.
No details were given about those kidnapped, who they worked for or who was suspected of taking them.
Several armed groups including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym FDLR, the Mai-Mai and the M23 regularly vie for control of eastern Congo’s natural resources.
Despite the danger, Chinese businesses have moved into Congo and other unstable African states in a quest for cobalt and other rare minerals and resources. Chinese workers have also been subject to kidnappings and attacks in Pakistan and other countries with active insurgencies.
Security was a key topic at a meeting Monday in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, on Monday, between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Congolese counterpart Christophe Lutundula, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.
China’s government and ruling Communist Party “attach great importance to the safety and security of Chinese enterprises and Chinese nationals overseas and the Chinese side has been extremely concerned with the recent serious crimes of kidnappings and killings of its citizens in the DRC,” Wang said, using the acronym for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Wang urged Congo to secure the release of those kidnapped and create a “safe, secure and stable environment for bilateral cooperation.”
Xinhua quoted Lutundula as saying Congo would take “forceful measures” to investigate the crimes, free the hostages, punish the culprits severely and safeguard national security and restore stability to the country’s east.
Earlier this week, Uganda said it launched joint air and artillery strikes with Congolese forces against camps of the extremist Allied Democratic Forces rebel group in eastern Congo.
The ADF was established in the early 1990s in Uganda and later driven out by the Ugandan military into eastern Congo, where many rebel groups are able to operate because the central government has limited control there.
At least four civilians were killed less than two weeks ago in Uganda’s capital when suicide bombers detonated their explosives at two locations.
The Daesh group claimed responsibility, saying the attacks were carried out by Ugandans. Ugandan authorities blamed the ADF, which has been allied with the Daesh group since 2019.