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Afghan, U.S., Uzbek officials discuss peace, trade

KABUL: Officials of Afghanistan, United States and Uzbekistan convened a video-conference on Wednesday, reaffirming the importance of trilateral discussions on key issues, including peace and enhancement of trade, said a joint statement Thursday.
The video-conference, which was co-chaired by American Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, Afghan acting Foreign Minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar, and Uzbekistan Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, addressed mutual issues of concern including, political, security, economic and human development matters, the statement said.
The participants called on the regional countries and the broader international community to promote peace process in Afghanistan to end war in the country, according to the statement.
Supporting what the meeting said “the goal of a durable political settlement preserving the gains of the last 18 years to end war in the country” was also part of the discussed agenda.
The participants also welcomed the conclusion of the May 17 political agreement to form an inclusive Afghan government and to create a High Council for National Reconciliation, both of which should help move the peace process forward.
They affirmed the urgency of starting intra-Afghan negotiations to discuss a comprehensive ceasefire and a political roadmap for Afghanistan’s future, according to the statement.
Release of up to 900 Taliban prisoners, following a three-day Eid festival ceasefire, was also welcomed by the participants encouraging Afghan government and the Taliban militant group to continue releasing prisoners of both sides, consistent with the U.S.-Taliban agreement of February.
Promotion of women’s equality and economic empowerment in order, women could serve as drivers of the response to and recovery from the impacts of COVID-19, was also part of the issue discussed in the video-conference.
The statement also said trade between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan would be promoted under significant measures including reviewing and improving legal frameworks, policy reforms, sharing information as well as development of the Free Economic Zone at the Termez border crossing.
The meeting came when U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced full American troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, without setting a deadline.
Trump’s response came as media reports said Pentagon is drawing up plans to bring U.S. troops home before the U.S. presidential election.
The Kabul Times

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The Kabul Times.