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U.S. Determined To Address ‘Legitimate Concerns’ To Achieve Peace in Afghanistan

Washington opened direct peace talks with the Taliban last summer to promote a political settlement to the war.

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USA, afghanistan, taliban, peace talks, pakistan
U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

The United States said Saturday that it was determined to address “legitimate concerns” of all sides in the conflict in Afghanistan to achieve peace.

Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, tweeted the pledgefrom neighboring Pakistan, where officials are trying to arrange and host the next round of talks with representatives of the Afghan Taliban.

The insurgent group has been reluctant to send its envoys to the dialogue since its last meeting with Khalilzad’s team in the United Arab Emirates a month ago. Representatives from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the host country also attended that meeting.

The Taliban has since accused the U.S. team of backing away from holding discussions on key insurgent demands for all American and NATO troops to leave the country to allow Afghans to resolve political differences themselves.

Afghanistan, Peace Talks
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, right in backgroud, and U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, left in background, meet in Kabul, Nov.10, 2018. VOA

Washington has been pushing the Taliban to open direct talks with the Afghan government, but insurgents have refused to do so, rejecting Kabul as an “American puppet.”

“To achieve peace, we are ready to address legitimate concerns of all Afghan sides in a process that ensures Afghan independence and sovereignty, and accounts for legitimate interests of regional states,” Khalilzad said.

He called for insurgents to agree to a cease-fire, and warned that U.S. troops would hit back if they came under attack from the Taliban.

“Urgent that fighting end. But pursuing peace still means we fight as needed,” the U.S. envoy underscored in his messages via Twitter.

Pakistan promotes dialogue

Pakistan said it was trying to facilitate U.S.-Taliban discussions, hoping the dialogue would lead to an intra-Afghan peace process. Islamabad has long been accused of sheltering and covertly helping Taliban rebels orchestrate attacks inside Afghanistan. Pakistani leaders reject the charges.

Taliban, afghanistan, peace
Taliban fighters are seen in Shindand district, Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27 2016. VOA

“The solution to the Afghan issue is not possible without intra-Afghan dialogue, and Pakistan considers it vital for the restoration of peace in the entire region,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told local media Saturday.

Also Read: Pakistan Increases Efforts To Save The U.S.-Afghanistan Peace Talks

Washington opened direct peace talks with the Taliban last summer to promote a political settlement to the war. Since then, media reports have said U.S. President Donald Trump is considering a plan to pull out nearly half of the 14,000 American troops stationed in Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

The reported plans have worried critics, who say the move will encourage the Taliban to continue its military campaign rather than negotiate a political settlement to the 17-year-old war. (VOA)

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For U.S. Military Veterans, Apple Providing Health Records On iPhones

The Department of Veterans Affairs runs the largest integrated health care system in the United States, with 9 million veterans enrolled and more than 1,200 facilities.

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Apple providing Health Records to Veterans via iPhones
Apple has been working on partnerships with health care organizations to allow access to health records on its devices, promoting their privacy and security features.

Apple Inc on Wednesday said that U.S. military veterans who use its iOS devices and get medical care from the Veterans Health Administration will be able to access their health records on the devices.

The Department of Veterans Affairs runs the largest integrated health care system in the United States, with 9 million veterans enrolled and more than 1,200 facilities. Apple began working with the department this summer to allow access to health records from the system on iPhones and other Apple mobile devices running its iOS operating system.

Apple has been working on partnerships with health care organizations to allow access to health records on its devices, promoting their privacy and security features. Data stored in the health app on iPhones is encrypted in such a way that Apple cannot read the data, even if the data is backed up to Apple’s iCloud service.

Apple has also worked out similar health record access arrangements with about 400 groups in the health care industry, including Johns Hopkins, the University of California San Diego, Quest Diagnostics and Allscripts, the company said. Apple’s system allows the user to access records from all of those providers in one place on their device. (VOA)