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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Senior Qatari official meets diplomats in Afghanistan amid stalled talks

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The US Central Command announced on Tuesday that it has completed 90% of its troop withdrawal in Afghanistan.

A senior Qatari official met with several Afghan diplomats on Tuesday during a visit to Kabul amid a stalled peace process and an ongoing US and foreign troop withdrawal in the war-torn country.

Doha’s Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani and his delegation held meetings with First Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh, Second Vice President Sarwar Danish, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Haneef Atmar, according to a statement by Qatar’s foreign ministry [MOFA].

Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said that the diplomats spoke about the political and security situation in the country as well as an escalation of violence by the Taliban. Al Qahtani also reiterated his country’s commitment to supporting the Afghan peace process.

Qatar has been facilitated the peace talks since September last year in hopes of ending decades of war between the Afghan government and the Taliban. However, the talks have witnessed no tangible progress since then.

“Mr. Atmar spoke in good faith and with the Afghan government’s commitment to finding a political solution and fulfilling its obligations, especially the success of the peace talks, including the release of more than a dozen Taliban prisoners who did not agree with the original Doha agreement,” read the Afghan foreign ministry’s statement.

The latest meeting also comes as the US continues with its troop withdrawal ahead of the 11 September deadline announced by President Joe Biden earlier in April.

On Tuesday, the US Central Command [CENTCOM] said the process is now 90% complete, with the Department of Defence pulling out up to 984 C-17 loads of material from Afghanistan.

Nearly 17,074 pieces of equipment have also been turned in to the Defence Logistics Agency for disposition.

“The 17,074 pieces of equipment comprise almost entirely federal excess personal property. Most of this equipment is not defensive articles or considered to be major equipment,” said CENTCOM in a statement, adding that the US officially handed over seven facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defence.

The latest update comes days after US forces departed the Bagram Airfield, which has housed the largest military base in Afghanistan since the beginning of the invasion in 2001.

Return of Afghan soldiers

On Sunday, more than 1,000 Afghan security forces fled to Tajikistan through the northern border following Taliban attacks, with dozens more arrested by the group.

However, Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said the security personnel are being brought back to the country to continue the fight against the militant group, with up to 2,300 returning to service.

Taliban to propose peace plan ‘as soon as next month’

“Those that went to Tajikistan are coming back and are once again going to be in the service of the people and in the defence of Faizabad,” said Mohib in a news briefing on Tuesday, without providing further details on the process of bringing back the security forces to the country.

Tajikistani government sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that 127 Afghan security personnel were transported to a nearby city to fly back to Kabul.

Russia, which holds a large military base in Tajikistan, also said that it would step in to stabilise the border with Afghanistan.

In recent days, the Taliban has seized more territories in Kabul.

So far, the group says it captured more than 200 districts in 34 provinces, while Western security officials say the groups has seized more than 100.

According to Mohib, Afghan security forces captured 14 districts from the Taliban in the past week.

“By no means has anyone defected to the Taliban,” he said.


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