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Trilateral Summit On Afghan Peace To Be Hosted By Turkey

The highest Pakistani court also handed over schools being run by the outlawed organization in the country to a Turkish government foundation.

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Pakistan
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, welcomes Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan to Ankara, Turkey, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. The two expected to discus bilateral and regional issues. VOA

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan says “a much stronger effort” is needed to further ongoing peace talks his country is facilitating between the United States and Afghanistan’s Taliban.

Addressing a televised joint news conference in Ankara after official talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Khan said Afghans have suffered for decades and it is time for the International community to help bring an end to the war in the country.

“Pakistan has already been helping a dialogue between the Taliban and the Americans but it needs a much stronger effort from all the stakeholders, neighbors,” the prime minister emphasized.

Khan was referring to two-day talks in Abu Dhabi last month between U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and senior Taliban representatives that Pakistan said it had arranged.

Taliban, afghanistan, pakistan
Members of Taliban delegation take their seats during the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Nov. 9, 2018. VOA

Khalilzad and the Taliban described the dialogue “productive” and promised to meet again soon. Insurgents demand complete withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, saying their presence are blocking progress toward peace.

Speaking Friday, President Erdoğan announced he will host a trilateral summit meeting with Pakistan and Afghanistan after Turkey’s March 31 local elections to discuss the peace process.

“I look forward to the summit meeting inshallah [God willing] in Istanbul where we hope that Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey will be able to help in this [Afghan] peace process … a much badly needed peace,” Prime Minister Khan said.

Pakistan’s role in arranging the U.S.-Taliban talks, analysts say, is leading to a thaw in Islamabad’s traditionally tumultuous relationship with Washington.

Speaking on Wednesday, President Donald Trump apparently acknowledged the improvement in mutual ties. “We do want to have a great relationship with Pakistan … so, I look forward to meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in the not too distant future.”

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

Khan’s two-day official meetings in Turkey ended Friday and it was his first visit to the country since taking power after the July elections in Pakistan. The two Muslim nations enjoy close relations.

Prime Minister Khan assured Turkey of his country’s support to defeat Islamic State, saying the terrorist group “already has emerged in various parts of Afghanistan” and threatens the security of Pakistan.

Erdoğan also praised a recent ruling by Pakistan’s supreme court, which declared exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen’s organization, FETÖ, a terrorist group.

Afghanistan
U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pa., U.S. July 10, 2017. VOA

The highest Pakistani court also handed over schools being run by the outlawed organization in the country to a Turkish government foundation.

Also Read: Peace Offer By Afghan Government Gets Rejected By Taliban

Turkey accuses Gulen of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016. (VOA)

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President of Egypt Calls for Collective Action Against Countries Supporting Terrorism

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The president of Egypt Urges world leaders to take decisive action against states supporting terrorism. Pixabay

Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt.

The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya.

Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

“There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said.

Abdel Fattah Al Sisi Egypt
The President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. VOA

The gathering in Aswan is attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the U.S., Britain and Canada.

The Sahel region is home to al-Qaida and Islamic State group-linked militants. El-Sissi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists.

Egypt has for years been battling an Islamic State-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.

Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, as well as in the country’s vast Western Desert, which has witnessed deadly attacks blamed on militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya.

Since Morsi’s ouster, tensions have grown between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt and Qatar. The political party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designated as at terrorist group in 2013.

Upcoming conference

El-Sissi also said a “comprehensive, political solution would be achieved in the coming months” for the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He did not elaborate.

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This photo provided by the office of Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, dignitaries including Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, gather, for a photo during a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Egypt. VOA

He said that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”

El-Sissi apparently was referring to an international summit in Berlin that aims to reach an agreement on actions needed to end the conflict. The conference had been scheduled for October, but it has apparently been postponed.

After the 2011 civil war, Libya split in two, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.

Maritime border agreement 

El-Sissi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.

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Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.

Hifter has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrestle control of the capital.  He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy. (VOA)