Taliban, US to resume peace talks after brief break

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US special representative for Afghan peace and reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (C) interacts with the audience after a forum talk with Afghan director of TOLO news Lotfullah Najafizada, at the Tolo TV station in Kabul on April 28, 2019. (AFP/Wakil Kohsar)
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US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad attends the Intra Afghan Dialogue talks in the Qatari capital Doha on July 8, 2019. Dozens of powerful Afghans met with a Taliban delegation on July 8, amid separate talks between the US and the insurgents seeking to end 18 years of war. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2019
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Taliban, US to resume peace talks after brief break

  • Taliban and US delegates agree to resume talks after consultation with their leadership
  • China could become one of the key guarantors if the US and Taliban sign a peace deal

DOHA: The US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad left for China on Tuesday after meeting with the Taliban negotiators in Doha to redress the differences over the time-frame for foreign troop withdrawal — the only issue seen as a major hurdle in reaching a final deal.
Khalilzad claims that Taliban and the US reached an accord over three out of the four key issues and that progress had been made on the fourth.
“I had a meeting with the Taliban this morning. Headed to China now and then will return to Washington to report and consult on the Afghan Peace Process,” he tweeted.
Khalilzad is likely to attend a conference in Beijing organized by the Shanghai Institute for International Studies on Afghan peace process. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai will also attend the conference.
Meanwhile, Taliban officials in Doha have said that the seventh round of Afghan peace talks will resume after both sides have briefed their leaders on the discussions held so far.
“There is break for consultations with the leaders and this round will resume later to finalize the remaining issues,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Arab News, without giving further details. He did not say when the talks will restart.
Shaheen, however, wrote on twitter that the two sides will meet soon after consultations with their respective leaders and finalize whatever has been discussed.
Taliban sources, familiar with Tuesday’s talks said that both sides had constituted committees to address different issues currently under discussion. These committees met on Tuesday to iron out technical details pertaining to these issues including withdrawal of foreign forces, preventing Afghan soil from being used against the US in future, cease-fire, and direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Taliban have refused to declare cease-fire and hold talks with the Kabul administration unless the US announced a time-frame for complete withdrawal of forces.
Khalilzad is visiting China days after senior Taliban negotiators traveled to Beijing for talks with the Chinese officials on the country’s role in the peace process asking China to become one of the key guarantors if the US and Taliban sign a peace deal.
China had also offered to host the intra-Afghan talks if all sides agreed to the proposal joining the line with Uzbekistan and Indonesia, but the Taliban rejection the move. 
Taliban delegation and Khalizlad met following a two-day intra-Afghan conference in Doha in which the Taliban political representatives, Afghan government officials, politicians, women and civil society activists agreed on a roadmap for peace stressing the need to “minimize civilian casualties to zero.”
“Civilians should not be affected, war continues, but our aim is to reduce civilian casualties,” read the joint resolution passed at the end of the Intra-Afghan Peace Conference late Monday.
The joint statement pledged to “guarantee the security of public institutions like schools, religious madrassas, hospitals, markets, water dams and other working locations.”
Although, not binding in nature, the statement further urged the stakeholders to take confidence-building measures, including “unconditional release of elderly, disabled and ill inmates,” ahead of the direct negotiations.
Doha conference, which was jointly hosted by Qatar and Germany, witnessed the attendance of Afghan government representatives for the first time but the three officials spoke in their personal capacity.
The participants stressed continuation of dialogue and said they have “full consensus that achieving sustainable, far-reaching and a dignified peace, which is the demand of the Afghan people, is the only possible through Afghan inclusive negotiations.”
The conference announced full support for peace negotiations currently underway between the Taliban and the US in Qatar to find out a political solution to the conflict. 


UAE says will open Asia’s biggest visa center in Karachi in September

Updated 23 min 26 sec ago
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UAE says will open Asia’s biggest visa center in Karachi in September

  • Another all-purpose visa center to begin operations in Islamabad in first week of October 2019
  • UAE ambassador says Pak-UAE ties could be strengthened by exploring more opportunities for trade and investment

KARACHI: United Arab Emirates ambassador to Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Alzaabi, said on Friday the UAE Embassy would open its biggest visa center in Asia in the port city of Karachi in the first week of September this year and another all-purpose visa center in Islamabad in the first week of October.
“Everything will be done here, including medical insurance, checkups and the contracts etc. to facilitate visa issuance from the visa center in Karachi which will be the biggest visa center of Asia,” Alzaabi said at a meeting during a visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “The entire team for this Visa Center at Khayaban-e-Shamsheer in Karachi will come from UAE.”
Deputy Consul General of UAE Bakheet Ateeq Alremeithi, Chairman Businessmen Group and Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, Senior Vice President KCCI Khurram Shahzad, Vice President KCCI Asif Sheikh Javaid and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present at the meeting.
While expressing gratitude to KCCI for extending its hospitality, the UAE Ambassador said that relations between Pakistan and UAE had always been very strong but could be strengthened by exploring opportunities and potential areas for enhancing trade and investment. 
“The governments of UAE and Pakistan are working very hard to narrow the gap and find opportunities, chances and potential for trade and investment,” Alzaabi said. “We are trying to find new areas of cooperation where we could work together and also examining the challenging areas so that these could be addressed by the authorities in UAE. Inshallah we will put our hands together to move forward in future.”
He said the UAE was now offering Pakistanis Silver Investment Visas for 5 years and Golden Investment Visas for 10 years and stressed the need for a legal framework between UAE and Pakistan to encourage and save investments made in either of the two countries. 
Chairman BMG & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli appreciated the support and cooperation being extended by UAE’s Embassy and its Consulate in Karachi but requested the Deputy Consul General to devise a system in collaboration with KCCI so that visas could be issued to credible businessmen and industrialists with a personal guarantee by KCCI. He also requested the Ambassador to only entertain visa recommendation letters and requests from those Chambers of Commerce and trade associations which were legally registered at the Ministry of Commerce, adding that the UAE Embassy could easily obtain a list of all legal Chambers of Commerce and trade bodies along with their jurisdiction details from the Ministry of Commerce that would help in better understanding the legalities and jurisdictions of 42 Chambers of Commerce and around 120 sector-specific trade associations in Pakistan.
President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda said KCCI would soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE Chamber to improve trade and investment ties and bring the business communities closer to each other. 
“We should work collectively to enhance bilateral trade and deal with all the irritants and barriers, particularly the non-tariff barriers between the two countries,” Makda said, adding that other than tourist visas, the UAE government must also look into the possibility of issuing business visas to Pakistan’s business community.