International Bakhtar News Agency is the official state news agency of the Afghan government, based in Kabul. The agency is a major source of news for all media in Afghanistan, gathering domestic and international news and providing information to outlets. http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af Sun, 22 Sep 2019 14:23:58 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb US Working For A Good Deal To Guarantee A Bright Path For Afghans: Pentagon http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/39908-us-working-for-a-good-deal-to-guarantee-a-bright-path-for-afghans-pentagon.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/39908-us-working-for-a-good-deal-to-guarantee-a-bright-path-for-afghans-pentagon.html

Sunday September 8, 2019
Kabul (BNA) U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Saturday that while it was seeking a political agreement with the Taliban, Washington would not accept just any deal after a wave of violence cast a shadow over its talks with the insurgent group.
Afghan leaders including President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani have been increasingly critical of the apparent draft deal reached between U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Doha this week as the violence has escalated.
“The United States’ View is that the best way forward is a political agreement and that (is  what) we’re working diligently on right now, that doesn’t mean we’ll take any deal,” Esper said during a press conference in Paris with his French counterpart.  “We will make sure we have a good deal, a good enough deal that guarantees at least the security of our countries going forward and a brighter path ahead for the Afghan people.”
Under the draft accord with the Taliban, thousands of U.S. troops would be withdrawn over the coming months in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for mi8litant attacks on the United States and its allies.  However, according to the agreement, a full peace agreement to end more than 18 years of war would depend on subsequent “intra Afghan” talks.  The Taliban have rejected calls for a ceasefire and instead stepped up operations across the country.  On Friday. U.S. envoy Khalilzad was back in the Qatari capital Doha, along with General Scott Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to continue talks with the Taliban, who said the meeting had gone well.
Yarzada

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International Sun, 08 Sep 2019 11:28:26 +0000
Graham Warns Trump on Taliban Deal in Afghanistan: Learn From 'Obama's Mistakes' http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/39568-graham-warns-trump-on-taliban-deal-in-afghanistan-learn-from-obamas-mistakes.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/39568-graham-warns-trump-on-taliban-deal-in-afghanistan-learn-from-obamas-mistakes.html Graham Warns Trump on Taliban Deal in Afghanistan: Learn From 'Obama's Mistakes'

Monday August 18, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a foreign policy hawk and close ally of President Trump, warned the White House against withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in a deal with the Taliban.
“American service members are not acting as policemen in Afghanistan. They are the front-line defense for America against the reemergence of radical Islamist groups who wish to attack the American homeland,” Graham said in a statement. “To trust the Taliban to control al-Qaeda, ISIS-K, and other radical Islamist groups present in Afghanistan – as a replacement for a US counter-terrorism force – would be a bigger mistake than Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal.”
“Any peace agreement which denies the US a robust counter-terrorism capability in Afghanistan is not a peace deal. Instead, it is paving the way for another attack on the American homeland and attacks against American interests around the world,” he added.
“President Trump should learn from President Obama’s mistakes. Be smart, take your time, and listen to your national security team.”
Graham has long advocated for a more muscular foreign policy, including advocating for strong U.S. intervention in the Middle East, saying a physical force in the region is needed to prevent terrorist attacks from reaching the mainland. He was harshly critical of President Obama’s decision to withdraw from Iraq, saying the move helped lead to the rise of groups like ISIS.
Graham’s statement comes after reports surfaced that Trump was set to meet with his national security team Friday afternoon to discuss a pending peace agreement with the Taliban. A senior official noted to reporters that Trump has “been pretty clear” about his desire to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the special envoy for Afghan peace talks, has been negotiating with the Taliban for months on a deal to end America’s war in Afghanistan that would see a withdrawal of troops in exchange for assurances from the group that it would not let the country become a base for terrorist organizations to launch attacks against the U.S.
Khalilzad said the last round of talks earlier this month was “productive,” though a deal’s finalization has been hindered by the Taliban’s refusal of inter-Afghan talks that the U.S. has pushed.
The Pentagon has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan on a dual mission of both training, advising and assisting local forces in the fight against the Taliban and running counterterrorism operations against groups like al Qaeda and ISIS.
Thehill
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International Mon, 19 Aug 2019 07:46:47 +0000
EU Warns Hungary over Afghan Refugees http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38017-eu-warns-hungary-over-afghan-refugees.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38017-eu-warns-hungary-over-afghan-refugees.html EU Warns Hungary over Afghan Refugees

Friday May 17, 2019
Kabul (BNA) The European Commission has warned Hungary over its ill-treatment of migrants and refugees, including depriving some of food, and trying to force others back to Afghanistan in violation of human right laws.
"We are concerned of the reports of the treatment of migrants in Hungary, we take such allegations quite seriously," a European Commission spokeswoman told reporters in Brussels on Monday (13 May).
The expression of concern from the Berlaymont follows Hungary's failed efforts last week to deport three families back to Afghanistan, in what Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, described as deeply shocking.
Two families were forced back into Serbia, while a third family remains in Hungary's transit zone after the European Court of Human Rights granted an injunction preventing them from being removed.
Budapest had drafted in the EU's border agency Frontex to carry out the Afghan returns, posing questions on possible EU complicity.
But the commission said neither itself, nor the Warsaw-based Frontex, has any say over the return decisions, despite having launched two court cases against Hungary over its migration and asylum policies.
"We have a case before the Court of Justice regarding Hungarian legislation in asylum and 'return', both cases are before the court at the moment," said the spokeswoman.
Hungarian legislation automatically dismisses asylum claims by anyone transiting from Serbia - which Budapest deems a "safe country."
That means people who have passed through Serbia cannot claim asylum in Hungary, even based on merit - despite EU laws that are supposed to provide safeguards against the abuse.
This appears to be part of a larger strategy by Hungary's right-wing government under Prime Minister Viktor Orban to demonize refugees and migrants, which it views as a national security threat.
Hunger tactics
The Budapest-based Hungarian Helsinki Committee last August had also documented cases in Hungary's transit zone, along the Serbian border, of people being denied food, sometimes for up to five days.
Despite promises by Hungarian authorities to start feeding the failed asylum seekers, the NGO documented another eight cases between February and April this year.
A total of twenty-one people have gone hungry in what the NGO describes as "starvation cases".
"Pending the enforcement of the expulsion, adults, unless they are pregnant or nursing women, are starved in detention," said the NGO.
Pressed on the issue last September, Orban's spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs took a defiant tone, telling reporters in Brussels that "we are not providing a free meal, free food for any illegal migrants".
Orban earlier this month toured the Hungarian transit zone and razor-wire border fencing with Italy's far-right deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini.
The pair are ratcheting up the anti-migrant rhetoric ahead of the European Parliament elections at the end of this month. Salvini is hoping to increase the European Alliance of Peoples and Nations political group in the next parliament.
The move seeks to bridge an alliance against immigrants with other far-right leaders like France's Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, and Germany's AfD, among others.
Salvini's League party and his wider crusade against migrants has also helped spread the rise of Italian disinformation networks on Facebook.
The social media giant shut down 23 Italian Facebook pages, with over 2.46 million followers, for peddling hate against immigrants and Jews and spreading debunked anti-vaccine conspiracies.
Over a dozen of the pages supported the League party and its populist government coalition party, the Five-Star Movement.
The Facebook removals follow an investigation by Avaaz, a global activist NGO.
"Facebook has done a good job in taking these pages down, but it says a lot that a multi-billion dollar company is relying on a crowd-funded Avaaz investigation to defend Europe's democracy," said Christoph Schott, Avaaz campaign director, in a statement on Monday.
Euobserver
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International Fri, 17 May 2019 11:04:26 +0000
India, Iran Discuss Afghanistan, Regional Situation http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38015-india-iran-discuss-afghanistan-regional-situation.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38015-india-iran-discuss-afghanistan-regional-situation.html India, Iran Discuss Afghanistan, Regional Situation

Friday May 17, 2019
Kabul (BNA) External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday told visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that India would take a decision on continuing oil imports from Iran "after the elections keeping in mind our commercial considerations, energy security and economic interests", Government sources said on Tuesday. On the issue of oil imports, it may be recalled that India has been in the process of completely stopping its oil imports from Iran to escape US sanctions.
However, the new government that is expected to be in place within the next three weeks in New Delhi is expected to take a final decision on the matter.
Iranian foreign minister Zarif had made a brief visit to New Delhi on Tuesday to hold talks with Ms Swaraj. The ministry of external affairs meanwhile only issued a brief statement, saying Ms Swaraj and Mr Zarif “held constructive discussions on all bilateral issues of mutual interest” and that there was a “good exchange of views on the evolving regional situation, including Afghanistan”.
The Indo-Iranian strategic cooperation on the Chabahar port was also discussed, with government sources saying “both sides expressed satisfaction at the operationalisation of the interim contract on the  Chabahar Port”.
New Delhi has been worried over the impact that American policy against Iran will have on the Indo-Iranian strategic partnership for the development of Chabahar port in Iran that gives New Delhi crucial sea-land connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.
It may be recalled that the United States had earlier given six-month waivers to eight countries including India, China, Japan and South Korea for exemption from the November 4 deadline last year of stopping Iranian oil imports completely. India relies heavily on foreign oil imports to meet its energy demands.
Deccanchronicle
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International Fri, 17 May 2019 11:03:58 +0000
Senators Want Visas For Afghans Now Stranded After Helping U.S. Forces http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38014-senators-want-visas-for-afghans-now-stranded-after-helping-us-forces.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38014-senators-want-visas-for-afghans-now-stranded-after-helping-us-forces.html Senators Want Visas For Afghans Now Stranded After Helping U.S. Forces

Friday May 17, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday revived an effort to provide visas to move to the United States for Afghans who worked for Americans during the long war in their country and are now stranded, their lives at risk due to that work.
The bill would provide 4,000 Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for the rest of the federal fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, and also try to address obstacles that have prevented Afghans from getting visas under previously passed legislation.
National Public Radio (NPR) reported on May 1 that President Donald Trump’s administration had cut by 60 percent the number of U.S. visas provided to Afghans who risked their lives assisting American forces. About 1,650 were approved in 2018, down from more than 4,000 in fiscal year 2017.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen sponsored the bill with Republicans Thom Tillis, Roger Wicker and Cory Gardner and Democrats Jack Reed, Richard Blumenthal and Tim Kaine.
Backers of the plan said Washington needs to protect Afghans who worked for U.S. forces in order to ensure local support.
Army General Austin Miller, commander of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, sent a letter to Shaheen backing the bill, calling the SIV program critical to success in Afghanistan.
“If the program is not fully resourced, our credibility and the sacrifices made by thousands of Afghans in support of Americans and our Coalition partners could be undermined,” Miller wrote.
Shaheen was a lead sponsor of similar legislation passed in previous years, along with late Republican Senator John McCain, who was chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
His widow, Cindy McCain, backed the bill, saying McCain would be pleased to know that the bipartisan measure continued his legacy.
Backers said they felt the measure stood a good chance of passing, possibly as a provision of one of the larger must-pass spending bills Congress will consider later this year, despite Trump’s efforts to tighten immigration, particularly from Muslim-majority countries.
Reuters
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International Fri, 17 May 2019 11:03:56 +0000
Iran Supports Ongoing Afghan Peace Talks http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37811-iran-supports-ongoing-afghan-peace-talks.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37811-iran-supports-ongoing-afghan-peace-talks.html Iran Supports Ongoing Afghan Peace Talks

Wednesday May 1, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Tuesday that Iran supports any efforts or talks that help establish peace, stability and security in Afghanistan.
“Iran supports any process and dialogue in line with Afghanistan’s independence, peace and stability,” Mousavi stated.
A four-day consultative grand assembly, known as a Loya Jirga, started meeting in Kabul on Monday. The rare consultative meeting is aimed at finding ways to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban and end the long-running war in Afghanistan.
It is an attempt by President Ashraf Ghani to influence peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, which the Taliban have excluded his government from.
“It is a proud moment for me to have representatives from all over the country here and today we are gathered to speak about the peace talks,” Reuters quoted Ghani as saying in an opening ceremony in huge tent set up for such assemblies in central Kabul.
This week’s meeting, being attended by 3,200 tribal elders, and community and religious leaders from all 34 provinces, aims to set out Kabul’s conditions for any peace deal.
But opposition political leaders and government critics, including former president Hamid Karzai, are boycotting the assembly accusing Ghani of using it as a platform to boost his status as leader in an election year.
Ghani has invited the Taliban, but they have rejected the offer and urged others to boycott it.
The group has also alleged that this is an attempt by the government to deceive the country and extend its “illegitimate rule”.
“Do not participate in the enemy’s conspiracy under the name of Jirga; instead find ways to further sideline the shaky administration of Kabul,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, according to Press TV.
Tehrantimes
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International Wed, 01 May 2019 11:07:38 +0000
No Evidence of India Using Afghan Soil against Pakistan, Says US http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37807-no-evidence-of-india-using-afghan-soil-against-pakistan-says-us.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37807-no-evidence-of-india-using-afghan-soil-against-pakistan-says-us.html No Evidence of India Using Afghan Soil against Pakistan, Says US

Wednesday May 1, 2019
Kabul (BNA) The United States on Tuesday said it has found "no evidence" to suggest that India is using the Afghan soil to perpetrate terrorism in Pakistan.
“I don’t have the evidence what you’re referring to, but our policy is clear that no country should support non-state actors,” the Express Tribune quoted US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice Wells, as saying. Wells was responding to a question at the US embassy in Islamabad against the backdrop of a narrative put forth by Pakistan, claiming that India is using the Afghan soil to cause trouble in the country. The American diplomat, who was in Islamabad as part of a delegation headed by US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, also asserted that it has no information regarding Army’s latest allegations that Afghan and Indian secret agencies were funding the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). On Tuesday, Major General Asif Ghafoor had blamed India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for allegedly funding PTM, a human rights movement of the Pashtun community against Pakistani security establishments for violating their human rights. Wells urged regional countries to respect each other’s sovereignty and work together to achieve peace and economic growth in the region. “We recognise and respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan. We do not support any separatist or irredentist movements. We think it’s critical that nations of this region respect one another and work to achieve peace and economic growth,” she said. (ANI)
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International Wed, 01 May 2019 11:06:43 +0000
49 Killed In Attacks on Two Mosques in Christchurch http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37277-49-killed-in-attacks-on-two-mosques-in-christchurch.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37277-49-killed-in-attacks-on-two-mosques-in-christchurch.html 49 Killed In Attacks on Two Mosques in Christchurch

Friday March 15, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Forty nine people have been killed and more than 20  others have been seriously injured at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch after at least one gunman opened fire on worshipers.
The man, who identified himself as 28-year-old Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, filmed the attack on social media. Dressed in a military-style, camouflage outfit, and carrying an automatic rifle he started randomly shooting people in the Al Noor mosque shortly after 1.40pm local time (12.40am GMT).
Tarrant, who filmed himself attacking a Christchurch mosque in a Facebook Live video, posted a 74-page manifesto in which he claims to be from a “working class, low income family”.
He said he was of Scottish, Irish and English stock and moved to New Zealand temporarily to plan and train and then stayed there after deciding to conduct the attack.
“I have read the writings of Dylann Roof and many others, but only really took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik,” he wrote.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police had also defused a number of improvised explosive devices found on vehicles after the mosque shootings.
New Zealand had been placed on its highest security threat level. Police have asked all mosques across the country to close their doors today, advising people to stay away from them.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme violence.
"Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here," Ardern said.
The Bangladesh cricket team which were in Christchurch to play New Zealand in a third cricket on Saturday was arriving for prayers at the mosque when the shooting occurred but all members were  reported safe.
The teams later announced the test would be cancelled.
Telegraph
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International Fri, 15 Mar 2019 04:04:00 +0000
Pakistan Is Not Only Producing Terrorism, But Also Exporting It: Pashtun Journalist http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37047-pakistan-is-not-only-producing-terrorism-but-also-exporting-it-pashtun-journalist.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37047-pakistan-is-not-only-producing-terrorism-but-also-exporting-it-pashtun-journalist.html

Thursday February 28, 2019

Kabul (BNA) Aurangzeb Khan Zalmay, Editor of The Pashtun Times condemned the Pulwama terrorist attack. Being a Pashtun himself, Aurangzeb said that the Pashtun welcome surgical strike conducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF). He said, “Being a Pashtun I condemn the Pulwama terrorist attack. After this attack we saw Indians sinking into grief. It was an irreversible loss for Indian jawans. As far as the recent surgical strike is concerned, Pashtun welcome this attack. Pashtun in Pakistan are tired of the atrocities of Pakistani militaries upon Pashtuns. Not only Pashtuns, but also Baloch and Sindhis are suffering from these atrocities. Pakistan is not only producing terrorism, but Pakistan is also exporting terrorism to the world. People want to get rid of terrorism.”
ANINEWS
 

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International Thu, 28 Feb 2019 10:00:19 +0000
Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif, Architect Of Nuclear Deal, Resigns http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37018-iran’s-foreign-minister-zarif-architect-of-nuclear-deal-resigns.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37018-iran’s-foreign-minister-zarif-architect-of-nuclear-deal-resigns.html Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif, Architect Of Nuclear Deal, Resigns

Tuesday February 26, 2019

Kabul (BNA) Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the urbane, US-educated architect of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, announced his resignation unexpectedly on Monday on Instagram, Reuters reports.
“Many thanks for the generosity of the dear and brave people of Iran and its authorities over the past 67 months. I sincerely apologise for the inability to continue serving and for all the shortcomings during my service. Be happy and worthy”, he wrote on his Instagram page jzarif_ir.
He gave no specific reasons for his decision. Unconfirmed media reports indicated he resigned over Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s visit to Tehran on Monday. Noting that Zarif was not pictured in any of the coverage of the visit, one online website said: “the foreign minister was not informed”.
Zarif played the lead role in striking the deal under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international financial sanctions.
He came under attack from anti-Western hardliners in Iran after the United States pulled out of the agreement last May and reimposed sanctions on Iran’s economy and its lifeblood oil industry that were lifted under the deal.
Assad made his first public visit to Iran since the start of Syria’s war in 2011 on Monday, meeting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a post on Twitter, dismissed Zarif and Rouhani as “front men for a corrupt religious mafia.”
“Our policy is unchanged – the regime must behave like a normal country and respect its people”, Pompeo said.
A foreign ministry spokesman and spokesman for the Iranian mission to the United Nations, Alireza Miryousefi, confirmed the announcement of the resignation. There was no immediate word, however, on whether Rouhani would accept it.
Several lawmakers and politicians took to social media calling on the pragmatist Rouhani to reject the resignation, saying it would not serve national interests and would empower hardliners in Iran’s faction-ridden clerical establishment.
Born in 1960, Zarif lived in the United States from the age of 17 as a student in San Francisco and Denver, and subsequently as a diplomat to the United Nations in New York, where he served as Iranian ambassador from 2002-07.
He was appointed the minister of foreign affairs in August 2013 after Rouhani won the presidency in a landslide on a promise to open up Iran to the outside world.
Although Rouhani, as the president, is responsible for choosing ministers, Iran’s top authority Khamenei traditionally has the last say over the appointment of key ministers, including the foreign minister. Since taking charge of Iran’s nuclear talks with major powers in late 2013, Zarif has been summoned to parliament several times by hardline lawmakers to explain the negotiations.
Some hardliners even threatened Zarif with bodily harm after the nuclear deal was signed. Khamenei guardedly backed the agreement, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear work.
In February 2014 he caused an uproar with public comments condemning the Holocaust and was subsequently summoned to parliament. Holocaust denial has been a staple of public speeches in Iran for decades.
A former commander of Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hassan Abbasi, said in a speech earlier this month he believed Iranian people would spit on Zarif and those officials who supported the nuclear pact with powers.
“Rouhani, Zarif and (parliament speaker Ali) Larijani, go to hell,” Abbasi said in the central city of Karaj, Iranian media reported.
Middleeastmonitor
 

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International Tue, 26 Feb 2019 07:18:03 +0000