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Afghan Leaders Meet In Geneva To Start Peace And Reform Talks

"We hope the international leaders accept our demands and put pressure on the U.S. to withdraw all foreign forces from Afghanistan"

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US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the US embassy in Kabul. VOA

Afghan leaders and international diplomats meet in Geneva on Tuesday to evaluate whether strategies and aid offered to Afghanistan are helping resolve the quagmire created by the 17-year war, paving way for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

The two-day conference on Afghanistan, jointly hosted by the Afghan government and the United Nations comes at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is actively seeking a peace deal with the Taliban.

While no fresh financial commitments are expected, the conference will be a chance for donors to measure results against the $15.2 billion committed for Afghanistan at the last funding meeting in Brussels in 2016.

 

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A U.S soldier patrols at night in Khost province, Afghanistan, seen through night vision equipment. About 400,000 veterans had a PTSD diagnosis in 2013, according to the Veterans Affairs health system. VOA

 

“At least 60 percent of all the promises made by President Ghani at Brussels have been implemented. Discussions will be held regarding the challenges,” said Haroon Chakhansuri, President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman.

With Afghan security forces struggling to hold back increasingly confident Taliban fighters and Western appetite for further commitments uncertain, the conference comes at a sensitive moment.

The government will present a growth strategy mapping out how an economy battered by 40 years of war can one day stand on its own as well as pledges on issues ranging from fighting corruption to women’s empowerment.

 

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An internally displaced Afghan woman who fled from recent conflict cooks bread outside a shelter in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2017. VOA

 

However diplomats said much of the focus will be on side meetings, where officials from Afghanistan and regional and Western countries will have a chance to assess the efforts of U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

Ghani, facing a war-weary public at home, is expected to press regional countries to support the process but he has so far been kept on the sidelines by the Taliban’s refusal to talk to his government, which they consider illegitimate.

His own future will be decided by presidential elections due in April but organizational and political problems may hamper the vote with authorities admitting they are considering a delay of three months.

Veterans, PTSD, Afghan
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA

The Taliban, fighting to drive out international forces and establish their version of strict Islamic law, will not be attending but will be closely monitoring the talks.

Also Read: The Afghanistan Elections

“We hope the international leaders accept our demands and put pressure on the U.S. to withdraw all foreign forces from Afghanistan,” said a Taliban member. “Otherwise the conference will hold little significance.”

The United States currently has some 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, serving in the NATO-led Resolute Support training and advisory mission as well as in separate counter-terrorism operations against militant groups like Islamic State. (VOA)

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Number of Indians Studying in the U.S. Surpassed 2 Lakh

Indians studying in the USA Keeps Growing in Number

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Set of books for studying and reading.
Academic libraries are generally located on college and university campuses and primarily for studying and for faculty members. Pixabay

The number of Indians studying in the US increased by almost three per cent over the last year to 202, 014, – the sixth consecutive year marking such growth.

According to the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released on Monday, Indians make up over 18% of all international students in the United States.

India provided the second highest number of graduate students and jumped up to third place in undergraduates, it said.

students studying in lecture
Students during a university lecture. Pixabay

Speaking at the United States India Educational Foundation (USIEF), the Embassy’s Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs Charisse Phillips said, “Student exchanges between our two countries help strengthen the foundation upon which our strategic partnership is built. Indian students are looking for a great education and the United States offers the best return on this investment.”

In 2018-19, US colleges and universities hosted more than one million international students for the fourth consecutive year. The total number of international students expanded for the thirteenth consecutive year.

The top places of origin for international students studying in the United States were China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil and Mexico. The top host states were California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

Also Read: Union Environment Ministry Rolling out Anti-pollution Measures for Delhi NCR region

Open Doors is published by the Institute of International Education (IIE), which has conducted an annual statistical survey on international students in the United States since its founding in 1919 and in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since 1972.

EducationUSA is a US Department of State network of over 430 international student advising centres in 178 countries and territories. EducationUSA is the official source on US higher education. In India there are 7 EducationUSA advising centers.

USIEF hosts centres in New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata. The centre in Bengaluru is hosted by Yashna Trust and the one Ahmedabad is hosted by IAES. (IANS)