EU calls for Afghanistan cease-fire

EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan Roland Kobia was at a press conference in Kabul on Sunday. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

EU calls for Afghanistan cease-fire

  • US President Donald Trump last month declared talks with the insurgents “dead”
  • Afghanistan is currently in an uneasy waiting period following the first round of presidential elections on Sept. 28

KABUL: European Union officials called Sunday for a cease-fire in Afghanistan, saying the breakdown in talks between the US and the Taliban presented an opportunity to push anew for a truce.
US President Donald Trump last month declared talks with the insurgents “dead,” citing a Taliban attack that killed a US soldier.
Negotiations had been in the final stages for a deal that would have seen the US pull troops from Afghanistan after 18 years in return for various Taliban guarantees.
But to the dismay of many Afghans and international observers, the deal included no immediate, comprehensive cease-fire, rather it would supposedly have paved the way for a reduction in violence and later talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Roland Kobia, the EU ambassador to Afghanistan, said the talks’ collapse provided a chance to push for a cease-fire which would, in turn, prove a large enough change in Afghanistan for Trump to consider resuming negotiations.
“It’s the right moment and the right opportunity to maybe go one step beyond a simple reduction in violence and explore ways in which a cease-fire ... will take place,” Kobia told Kabul journalists.
“The idea is really to see how we can move the cease-fire idea forward instead of leaving it for later. ... There is an opportunity here today.”
When asked how the EU, which has only a limited footprint in Afghanistan, could leverage a cease-fire, Kobia suggested that the Taliban might return to power in “one form or another” within months so would entertain a truce to help normalize future relations with the European bloc.
“A cease-fire would be a token, a guarantee of goodwill and good preparation for the normalization of these relationships,” Kobia said.
The Taliban, for its part, has steadfastly ruled out an immediate cease-fire but last year downed weapons for a three-day truce.
Afghanistan is currently in an uneasy waiting period following the first round of presidential elections on September 28.
Results were supposed to be released Saturday but have been indefinitely delayed due to “technical issues,” the Independent Election Commission said.
Pierre Mayaudon, head of the EU delegation in Afghanistan, said a delay of a few days to finalize results was legitimate to ensure votes were fairly counted.
“But not many more days that again will go into weeks and will possibly raise the perception that something is happening,” he told reporters.
Violence in Afghanistan meanwhile continues unabated. On Friday, at least 70 people were killed when a mosque in Nangarhar province was bombed.


Meghan felt ‘unprotected’ by UK royal family while pregnant: Court papers

Updated 46 min 59 sec ago

Meghan felt ‘unprotected’ by UK royal family while pregnant: Court papers

  • Meghan is suing publisher Associated Newspapers over articles its Mail on Sunday newspaper printed last year
  • Markle and his daughter have not spoken since he pulled out of appearing at her wedding to Harry in May 2018 after undergoing heart surgery

LONDON: Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, felt “unprotected” by the British royal family while she was pregnant with her son Archie, according to London High Court documents filed as part of her legal action against a tabloid newspaper.
Meghan, wife of Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry, is suing publisher Associated Newspapers over articles its Mail on Sunday newspaper printed last year which included parts of a handwritten letter she had sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.
Markle and his daughter have not spoken since he pulled out of appearing at her wedding to Harry in May 2018 after undergoing heart surgery and following news he had staged photos with a paparazzi photographer.
The Mail justified publishing the letter by saying five unnamed friends of Meghan, who gave birth to Archie in May 2019, had put her version of events in interviews with the US magazine People.
Her legal team say it was untrue she had authorized or arranged for her friends to tell People about the letter.
“The Claimant had become the subject of a large number of false and damaging articles by the UK tabloid media, specifically by the Defendant, which caused tremendous emotional distress and damage to her mental health,” her lawyers said in a submission to the High Court.
“As her friends had never seen her in this state before, they were rightly concerned for her welfare, specifically as she was pregnant, unprotected by the Institution, and prohibited from defending herself.”
The couple are now living in Los Angeles after stepping down from royal duties at the end of March. Harry said he had fallen out with his elder brother, Prince William, and Meghan has spoken of a lack of support when pregnant and as a new mother.
They have also said media intrusion, and what they believe are some newspapers’ racist coverage toward Meghan, whose mother is African-American and father is white, were behind their decision.
The trial for Meghan’s case is not expected this year. But in May, the judge rejected part of her claim that the paper had acted dishonestly and stoked the rift with her father.
On Wednesday, Harry said he regretted racism was “still endemic” in society in comments for The Diana Award, established in memory of his late mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in 1997 while fleeing paparazzi.