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Afghanistan Led Peace Talks Supported By Nations

Mohib said his government was ready to engage in serious, constructive peace talks with the Taliban.

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a U.N. conference on Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2018, at U.N. offices in Geneva, Switzerland. VOA

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Wednesday that he had put together a team of diplomats and experts for prospective peace talks with the Taliban.

Ghani spoke at a U.N.-sponsored conference in Geneva that was focused on ending 17 years of conflict with the rebel group, which did not attend the gathering.

The two-day conference shifted its focus from Afghanistan’s development and reform agenda to the quest for peace. U.N. Special Representative for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto said that according to delegates, the country has little hope of achieving its goals of stability, security and prosperity without peace.

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Tadamichi Yamamoto, U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

“Perhaps this is the first ministerial meeting when the issue of peace has been taken up with so much weight in addition to the regular issues, which are development, growth, social issues and reforms,” he said.

Yamamoto said the international community had agreed to keep helping Afghanistan now and to continue aid after a peace agreement was reached.

Delegates at the conference were putting the final touches on a comprehensive document of support as a car bomb struck a British security compound in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said events such as this bolstered his people’s resolve for peace.

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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

‘Patient focus’ required

“There is consensus within Afghanistan and outside of Afghanistan that the time for peace is now,” Mohib said. “We cannot squander this opportunity. It must be handled with patient focus and with a realistic understanding that it will take time to make sure peace is achieved and then implemented in a sustainable manner.”

Mohib said his government was ready to engage in serious, constructive peace talks with the Taliban. He said it was time for the Taliban to talk to the Afghan government, not just Washington.

Also Read: Opium Cultivation Goes Down By 20% in Afghanistan: U.N.

While he appreciated the international support, Mohib said the peace process must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned for it to work. (VOA)

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United Nations Chief Says “Don’t Change Kashmir Status”

Don't change Kashmir status, UN chief to both sides

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UN Secretary General concerned over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir. Pixabay

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres came out on Thursday against changing the status of Jammu and Kashmir and backed Security Council resolutions, of which the main one requires Pakistan to withdraw all its nationals from Kashmir.

His Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said: “The Secretary-General calls on all parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions.”

The Council’s Resolution 47 adopted on April 21, 1948, said Pakistan should withdraw its nationals from Kashmir before a plebiscite can be held. Pakistan, however, continues to occupy a significant part of Kashmir making a plebiscite impossible.

Since then, India has said a plebiscite was moot because of Pakistan’s continued occupation and because Kashmiris have had their say in state and national elections.

“The Secretary-General also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Simla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,” Dujarric said.

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UN Chief comments on abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir. Pixabay

While calling for maximum restraint, “the Secretary-General is also concerned over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir, which could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region”, he added.

The Charter provisions directly applicable to the India-Pakistan situation require members to settle their disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any nation.

The Charter also says that the UN cannot “intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state”.

The Simla Agreement signed in 1972 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was Pakistan’s President at that time, also said that Kashmir was a bilateral issue, thus ruling out third-party intervention.

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UN Chief says that all parties must refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir. Pixabay

The Secretary General’s office circulated to members of the Security Council a letter written by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to Guterres on August 1 expressing concern about the situation in Kashmir. He also asked Guterres to set up a “fact-finding mission” for Kashmir and to appoint a special representative.

Also Read: Experts Say Rajasthan Has Highest Deaths Due To Air Pollution

Dujarric said that the letter was being studied and no decision has been taken on appointing a special representative.

He said that the Secretariat was in contact with the Permanent Missions of India and Pakistan over the recent developments.

Joanna Wronecka, the President of the Security Council, refused to answer a reporter’s question about Qureshi’s letter and if there would any action on it. (IANS)