US and Saudi officials discuss Afghan government’s likely ceasefire with Taliban

The US and Saudi officials have discussed the likely announcement of ceasefire by the Afghan government with the Taliban group during Eid Al-Adha.

“Secretary Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with SAudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” the State Department said in a statement.

The statement further added that the Secretary and the Crown Prince discussed their support for a ceasefire in Afghanistan over the coming Eid, and peace in Afghanistan more broadly.

No further details were given regarding the discussion about the likely ceasefire in Afghanistan.

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Taliban reacts in panic as religious scholars end 2-day conference on Afghanistan

The Taliban militants group reacted in panic as the religious scholars from various Islamic countries ended their two-day conference on Afghanistan, denouncing the Taliban-led insurgency and suicide attacks.

The group issued a statement claiming that efforts were made during the conference to turn Afghanistan into a second Palestine, hide the atrocities of the occupiers and cuff the hands of the fighters.

However, the group says such moves will not harm the ongoing efforts of the Taliban and warned the Saudi government that such gatherings could harm the status of the Kingdom.

This comes as the religious scholars on Wednesday issued a joint declaration, stating that “Based on the texts of the Quran and the Tradition that Islam is a religion of peace and mercy, that the believers should all be merciful towards one another, and that their blood, property and honour are inalienable and should be protected against aggression.”

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Conference on Afghan peace to begin in Saudi Arabia

The international Muslim scholars conference on peace and stability in Afghanistan is scheduled to begin tomorrow in Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will host the conference in Jeddah and Makkah Cities on July 10 and 11.

Delegations from 57 Islamic countries will take part in the two-day conference to discuss the role of scientists in bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan and Islam’s position on terrorism and violent extremism.

Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC) on Monday expressed hope that the conference would help in the launch of direct talks with the Taliban insurgent group.

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Kabul-Jeddah air cargo launched

The first Afghanistan-Saudi Arabia air cargo route linking Kabul to Jeddah city was officially launched on Tuesday. Officials from both nations said they hope to improve Afghan exports to Saudi Arabia.

More than 500 kilograms of saffron and one ton of almond were the first Afghan products to be sent to Jeddah through the air cargo.

Sameer Rasa, head of Public Relations Office of the Senior Advisor to President Ashraf Ghani in Banking and Finance, said a similar agreement will be signed between Kabul and Dubai in the near future.

“We are also trying to sign a similar accord with Dubai to launch Kabul-Dubai air corridor in the next few days. You will witness the launching of air corridor between Afghanistan and the European Union. In the view of air corridor which was launched with Turkey, our businessmen can transfer products to Europe via Turkey,” he said.

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Saudi Arabia to host Islamic Conference on Afghan peace

High Peace Council (HPC) officials on Tuesday reported that Saudi Arabia is expected to host a conference of Islamic scholars on peace in Afghanistan.

The two day conference will be held in the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Mecca and religious scholars are expected to announce their stance on the war in Afghanistan in a declaration. The conference is expected to be convened in a month’s time.

“When the war in Afghanistan is declared as a prohibited act in the view of religion, then the Taliban must show acceptance to the proposed peace package,” said HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Tahiri.

Meanwhile, US ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass has said that President Ashraf Ghani’s recent peace offer to the Taliban provides an opportunity to the group to respond positively.

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Afghan Traders Sign $20.5 Million in Deals at Dubai Food Show

Amid ongoing efforts to bolster the economic sector of the country through exports and domestic production, a group of at least 25 Afghan traders participated in a Food Show in Dubai where contracts worth 20.5 million US Dollars were signed with the foreign traders.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) says Afghan traders have inked US$20.5 million in signed and potential deals for high-value agricultural products due to their participation in February at the Gulfood Exhibition in Dubai.

According to a statement, USAID supported 25 Afghan exporters at the February 2018 Gulfood Show, where Afghanistan’s agricultural riches, including world-class pomegranates, saffron, apples, apricots, melons, grapes, nuts, and raisins were on display for international buyers.

The statement further added that Gulfood is the world’s largest annual food and hospitality show. Now in its 23rd year, the event showcased 5,000 exhibitors from the food, drink, food services, and hospitality industries. This year’s exhibition welcomed more than 97,000 visitors in the course of the five-day event.

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Saudi Arabia assures Afghanistan of support in peace efforts

Saudi Arabia has assured Afghanistan of supporting its efforts in fight against terrorism and play role in the Afghan peace process.

This was conveyed during an official visit of National Security Advisor (NSA) Mohammad Hanif Atmar to Saudi Arabia during which he held meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“Prince Mohammed bin Salman assured NSA of Saudi led IMCTC support from Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism; he further said Saudi Arabia would always play its role in the Afghan Peace Process to ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan,” the NSA office said in a statement.

According to the statement, both sides have discussed important issues of mutual and regional interest including the support of Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) from Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism, and the Afghan Peace Process.

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Saudi Arabia announces 34-state Islamic military alliance against terrorism

Saudi Arabia has announced the formation of a 34-state Islamic military alliance against terrorism with its joint operations center in Ryadh.

“The countries whose names are listed in this statement have decided to form a military alliance to fight against terrorism led by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a joint operations center shall be established in the city of Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations to fight terrorism and to develop the necessary programs and mechanisms for supporting these efforts,” states a joint statement released on Tuesday.

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Russia Growing Muscles in Middle East

After nearly a month of conducting daily air strikes, Russia is beginning to reveal its political calculations and strategic intent in Syria. A new round of talks in Vienna on a political solution for Syrian conflict is being conducted in which Russia is about to play a major role. There is a growing sense in Moscow, and among diplomats and politicians in some countries in the Middle East and the West, that Russia has a better chance than most to combine its increased influence over Assad with its military muscle in Syria’s skies to broker a deal to end the Syrian conflict. Hard reality is that right now Russia has more chances than any other country to settle the political process for Syrian conflict. But it’s not about Syria only Russia has big ambitions in whole Middle East and entering into the Syrian bloody war on the side of Bashar Al Assad was just a small part in Russia’s new grand strategy for Middle East. Since long Russia was frustrated with America’s strategic dominance over the region. To establish Kremlin also as a potent force in the region President Putin choose Syrian theatre to show his muscles.

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