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Afghan chief executive supports delegation for Taliban talks

Agencies

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Kabul : Afghanistan’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah welcomed Kabul’s decision to send a delegation to meet with the Taliban, saying he hoped they would present a “unified position” for the Afghan people.


In an ongoing push to find a way out of the country’s 17-year-old war, Kabul had earlier announced it would send representatives to “exchange views” with Taliban officials at fresh talks, due to take place in the Qatari capital Doha later this month.


US and Taliban officials have held several rounds of talks but the militant group has so far refused to talk directly to the Afghan government, which they consider an illegitimate regime.

 


“We need to have governmental and nongovernmental politicians in one platform, and talk future peace and reconciliation,” Abdullah told AFP on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Jordan.


“The aim of [the delegation] is to present a unified position of [the] people of Afghanistan”, he added.


Also read: Taliban say they are not looking to rule Afghanistan alone
Mohammad Omar Daudzai, President Ashraf Ghani’s envoy for peace, said the delegation would serve only to swap views with the Taliban, and its members would not necessarily be the same as a formal negotiating team.


Officials will meet on Wednesday in Kabul to finalise delegates, and to decide who might comprise an official negotiating team.


In a statement, the Taliban said the upcoming Doha talks would clarify participants’ “views and policies and sharing their stance”.


“The said conference is not a negotiations summit or meeting,” the group said.


The Taliban and Afghan opposition groups held a similar meeting in Moscow in February.


US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad spent last week in Afghanistan as part of an ongoing push for a peace deal.


His visit came against the backdrop of strains between Washington and Ghani’s administration, which has complained bitterly of being sidelined in peace talks.


Khalilzad has repeatedly called on Ghani to form a strong negotiating team to reach a deal before the country’s delayed presidential elections, now slated for September.


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International

Trump hints at some announcement at ‘Howdy Modi!’ event in Houston

Press Trust of India

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US President Donald Trump has hinted that there “could be” some announcement by him at the mega “Howdy Modi!” event in Houston on Sunday, where he would join Prime Minister Narendra Modi in addressing the 50,000-strong Indian diaspora.

The White House on Monday announced that Trump would join Modi at the mega Houston rally on September 22 as a “special gesture” by the US President to underscore the special bond between the two countries.It is for the first time that Trump and Modi would share a stage together. The event is the third meeting between the two leaders in three months, after the G-20 summit in Japan in June and the G-7 summit in France last month.

“Could be. I have a very good relationship with Prime Minister Modi,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday aboard Air Force One on his way back from California to Washington DC. He did not elaborate.He was responding to a question if there would be any announcement when he goes to Houston for the rally with the Indian leader.

 

According to media reports, officials of the two countries are trying to finalise a trade deal before Modi and Trump meet in Houston.

Trade tensions between India and the US have been rising with Trump complaining that tariffs imposed by New Delhi on American products were “no longer acceptable”.

The US in June terminated India’s designation as beneficiary developing country under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme.

India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products, including almonds and apples from June 5, after the Trump administration revoked its preferential trade privileges.

Reacting to a record number of 50,000 Indian-Americans registering for the event, Trump said the crowd for the event had now become bigger after it was announced that he would be going there.

“He (Modi) has got a big crowd coming and I guess the crowd just got a lot bigger because they just announced–he asked, would I go, and I will go,” Trump said.

After the Houston event, Trump would travel to Ohio for an event with the visiting Australian Prime Minister.

“Then we’re stopping in Ohio on the way back and then I guess we do the United Nations the following week,” the US President said.

Trump also said that he had a great relationship with both India and Pakistan.

Modi will be visiting the US from September 21-27 for the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). It is his first US trip after winning a second term as prime minister in May.

The two leaders are again scheduled to meet later in the week in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session.

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Kashmir may not be a major topic during PM Modi-Xi Jinping summit next month: China

Press Trust of India

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China on Tuesday said the Kashmir issue may not be a “major topic” of discussion during the planned 2nd informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping, notwithstanding the high voltage campaign by its close ally Pakistan over India revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

A senior Chinese official said it should be left to Modi and Xi on the issues they would like to discuss.

“As for Kashmir will be on the agenda, I’m not sure because this is kind of informal summit and leaders’ meeting I think better we need to give the leaders much time to discuss whatever they would like to discuss,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here.

“For this kind of informal summit, I think it is better to leave the leaders much time to discuss whatever they would like to discuss,” she said.

Hua said Kashmir may not be a major topic of discuss between the two leaders. “I think for those things like Kashmir, I don’t think it will be a major topic occupying the talks, that is my understanding,” she said.

“But for the leaders, they will be free to talk about whatever they like,” Hua said, responding to a question.

China, the all-weather ally of Pakistan, already tried to take the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council last month. But a closed-door meeting of the UNSC, in a snub to both Beijing and Islamabad, ended without any outcome or statement.

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European Parliament set to discuss Kashmir

Agencies

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Brussels, Sep 17: The European Parliament is expected to hold discussions on the Kashmir issue on Tuesday, the media reported.

After India scrapped its Constitution”s Articles 370 and 35A, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and divided the state into two union territories, Islamabad has been crying foul over New Delhi”s move and continuously trying to highlight the issue on a global level.

However, Pakistan has failed to get the international community to censure India.

The report said that in early September, the European Parliament “had debated an urgent resolution for the horrible conditions, including human rights violations, in Indian-occupied Kashmir”.

The European Union”s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, delivered a detailed policy statement on the Kashmir situation on September 17, it said. (IANS)

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